CNN Style: A History Untold
Rachel Wood, CNN Style, May 21, 2021
As Covid-19 lockdown restrictions ease in the UK, a new art exhibition in London is shining a light on lesser-known aspects of Black history.
Celebrating everything from South African jazz to a 20,000-year-old mathematical artifact, "A History Untold" aims to showcase Africa's diverse contribution to world history.
The exhibition is presented by England rugby player Maro Itoje whose love of African art was formed by regular trips to Nigeria, the country of his parents' birth. Itoje grew up in London but has always felt a strong connection to his Nigerian ancestry.
Last year he attended the Black Lives Matter protests in London and hosted podcast series Pearl Conversations, which featured prominent Black role models. He is also a supporter of the educational charity The Black Curriculum, which is focused on introducing more Black British history into the UK curriculum.
The inspiration for this exhibition came from Itoje's personal experience of being taught Black history in UK schools, which he says left out much of Africa's rich heritage.
"The African history that was taught, it focused around the transatlantic slave trade, a little bit on colonialism, and a little bit on Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in America," said Itoje.
"Whilst all those areas are important parts of history, they tell a single story with regards to Africa and African history and a story that only paints not even a quarter of the picture."
Itoje believes "art can speak to people and communicate to people in ways other forms cannot."
For the exhibition, which is being held at the Signature African Art gallery, Itoje has teamed up with African arts curator Lisa Anderson. She believes the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement means the exhibition is more timely than ever.