Blue and Beyond

African artists from Botswana, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Algeria explore their countries through the color blue

Portrait of Kim Karabo MakinDesign Indaba

Listen to Kim Karabo Makin speak about her work

Blue is a Personal Journey

Botswanan photographer Kim Karabo Makin uses the color blue to explore her experience of the unique spirit of her home country.

Listen to Kim Karabo Makin speak about her work

Botala Jwa Loapi: The Blue of the Sky

In Setswana, the term Botala Jwa Loapi can mean "the blue of the sky" depending on the context. In this work Kim uses the phrase as a starting point. 

Three Chiefs rendered in the Color Blue

Kim's work features a repeated pattern design that borrows from the face of the Botswanan currency's 100 Pula note. The note features portraits of three chiefs who are monumentalised as fathers of the nation, for their role in the Republic of Botswana’s grand narrative.

Listen to Kim Karabo Makin speak about her work

Evoking Traditional Dress

In addition to referencing Botswanan history through the motif of the three chiefs, Kim also refers to letaisi - traditional Botswanan dress. 

What does Kim say about her work?

''By intricately weaving together the history of the Three Chiefs, with the cultural value of particular  geometric patterns and traditional dress, my work  unpacks the layers of our societal  make-up and fabric, based on my lived experience of daily life in Botswana"

What Does Kim Think it Means to be African?

"I believe that to be African means to be in constant conversation with our historical entanglement. To be African means to acknowledge and nurture the interconnectedness of one’s sense of self."

Blue Skin of AlgeriaDesign Indaba


Blue, Beauty and Charm

Ramzy Bansaadi's exploration into his country via the color blue has allowed him to show the different ways in which this culturally predominant color exists in Algeria.

Blue Skin of AlgeriaDesign Indaba

A Day in the Life of the Color Blue

For his long term project exploring traditional festivals in rural Algeria,  Ramzy noticed the prevelance of the color blue in the places he visited. In selecting the photographs which documented this color, Ramzy created an photo-essay on the color blue in rural Algeria.

Blue Skin of AlgeriaDesign Indaba

What Does Ramzy Think it Means to be African?

"Africa is like a thousand leaves of a single tree. To be African now is to be in the future. This continent is full of hope, and we can't wait for it to be concrete."

Blueing HopeDesign Indaba

Blueing Hope

How does Rwandan artist  Christian Benimana understand his country through the color blue?

Blueing Hope, From the collection of: Design Indaba
Blueing Hope, From the collection of: Design Indaba
Blueing Hope, From the collection of: Design Indaba
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In his triptych Blueing Hope Christian Benimana has created digital drawings exploring how blue is ''a calm  messenger which paves the way before the sun rises and lays the foundations on which the hope brought by the first ray of sun stands."

Future MemoriesDesign Indaba

The Future is a Memory

For Ethiopean photographer Michael Tsegaye, the buildings in the process of construction which fill the Ethiopean streets portray a kind of timelessness. His photographs, titled Future Memories, explore this.

Future MemoriesDesign Indaba

Addis Ababa - A City Under Construction

As Michael notes "The plastic sheeting used to protect civilians from the building works and scaffolding that rises into the sky is a particular shade of blue. Almost like the sail of a ship, sailing in on the crest of a wave of change."

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What does Michael Think it Means to be African?

"To be an African is to live in the now. The changes that I see in Addis are happening all over the continent. New buildings, new ideas, new everything… Africa has a young population, and there is a thriving, new energy that represents what it means to be African."

Blueing HopeDesign Indaba

Blue is a Symbol of Opportunity

As Christian says "The first ray of the sun is the universal symbol of hope, but the calm blue of the dawn remains the symbol of opportunity and a new beginning for me." 

Blue is an Invitation

"It is a gentle reminder of a chance we have to begin afresh; an open invitation to try again, to correct what we haven't done properly in the past, and do better today."

What does Cristian Think About What it Means to be African?

"Being African is to be constantly misunderstood, constantly caught in tensions between what one is and what one is perceived to aspire to."

"Like a soldier on the battlefield, being African means to relentlessly fight hopelessness and despair. To – against all odds – emerge hopeful for the potential to fundamentally change the way we think about, understand, interact, and integrate our own lives with Africa." 

Blueing HopeDesign Indaba

United in Blue

In this exhibition, the artists and their works are as different and varied as the countries from which they hail. Their unique African stories exist here, however, unified by the color blue.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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Colours of Africa
A kaleidoscope of 60 artists from across the continent curated by Design Indaba
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