Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) started out in 2014, but only had significant breakthroughs in 2021. NFT creators and collectors have both benefited from this boom. African creators and collectors also actively partook in this ‘digital gold rush’ for the better part of 2021, with Nigeria and South Africa leading the charge at number 6 and number 8 in NFT adoption worldwide.
NFTs are unique digital data for digital transactions that are stored on a blockchain. A blockchain is a secure verification method for cryptocurrency transactions. Blockchains make cryptocurrency transactions almost impossible to hack. For this reason, NFTs are impossible to replicate.
Unlike cryptocurrencies, which are “fungible” (or interchangeable), Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are distinctive. Due to this fact, NFTs are setting precedence for collectible digital items like art. In the past, digital art have been highly pirated. With NFTs, digital art can be bought with as much significance and value put to the purchase as physical paintings have had before.
The top 10 Non-Fungible Token creators in Africa are featured in this article. They are the continent’s pioneers in this new creative space. The article highlights the details of their creative field, a summary of their background and their achievements in the NFT creative space.
Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe
Jacon Osinachi is an NFT artist. He the most successful NFT creator in Africa so far. The Nigerian says that he started making digital art 14 years ago, when he was 15.
He uses Microsoft’s Word Software, unlike most digital artists who use dedicated drawing softwares like Adobe illustrator. His unique drawing way is what gives his art additional appeal. The art is a two dimensional, but immersive. Apart from the aesthetic appeal, his art is also meant to be revolutionary. His themes touch on everyday societal norms.
One of his recent art series, the Different Shades of Water that was exhibited at the 1:54 African art fair in London, is inspired by how he grew up. He recalls having time to go to the beach and build sand castles. Him and his friends, now grown up working adults, don’t have time to go to the beach anymore. This kind of life is the strong point for all of his life. He imagines people could use a break. In the Different Shades of Water series, the people at the beach or in and around a pool are adults instead of children. His choice of character is intended to accentuate his theme.
Osinachi has managed a profitable art career selling NFTS ever since he discovered NFT artwork in 2017. Before that, one of his pieces could go for about 60 US dollars. Recently, during Christie’s auction at the end of last year, one of his works went for 68,000 US dollars. Which is his best selling piece so far. Christie’s auction is the same art auction that sold the world’s most expensive NFT artwork by Michael Winkelman, known on NFT exchange platforms as Beeple.
Osinachi’s success is proof that NFTs are profitable for African artists. As a front runner he inspires many African artists to start making NFTs. On a YouTube video conferencing panel organized by Binance Africa, he expresses optimism for the adoption of NFTs. During the video conference, however, he confirms that he is for passion over money mindedness when it comes to his creations.
Anthony Azekwoh is a writer as well as an ink pen and digital artist who resides in Lagos, Nigeria. He started writing when he was 13 and drawing when he was 16. Initially, he drew on A4 papers. Later on, however, he started using the Adobe Photoshop software to make digital artworks. His has won two accolades for his writing and art: the Awele Trust Prize in 2017 and the Loose Convo $1000 grant in 2018. He currently has a book deal with Inkwell because of how well his books have been received.
His art is also quite popular. Most of in them are paintings. Just like his books, the paintings are based on mythology. Sometimes he playfully ends a portrait with a portion of the garments only sketched. He came into the world of NFT art in March 2021, and immediately got his pieces to sell. According to his website, his collections on SuperRare, Nifty Gateway and Charged particles have sold out completely. From the roceeds of his NFT sales, he has set up a fund called the Anthony Azekwoh Fund (AAF) to help budding new artists.
Odion Tobi is an artist and graphic designer who lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Like the other two artists he started drawing at a young age. He was fascinated by a drawing by a cloth company and it inspired him. That was when he decided he wanted to create art.
He describes his designs as “3D afro-centric and surrealistic.” His designs won the African Voices Logo Competition in 2016, which was meant to find a graphic designer for the new African Voices Logo. His work as an NFT artist are fruitful, even though he does not like to quote figures. He has a community of creators that meet on Telegram, Whatsapp and Discord. The community is called The Ideators. Its purpose is to bring creatives in Africa together.
Oyindamola Oyekemi Oyewumi
Oyindamola Oyekemi Oyewumi’s first NFT was sold by the co-founder of Ethereum, Charles Hoskinson. The NFT was a tweet in which she took a photo of her work while making a ballpoint pen drawing of Hoskinson. In the photo, she shows her hands which are smeared with blue ink. She tweets, “My hands look ugly, So that my drawings can look beautiful. Please don’t scroll pass without Retweeting.” Although she was hesitant at first, she later went on to join the NFT creator space.
Niyi Okeowo is a photographer, 3D artist, visual artist, creative strategist, and animator. Although he is a graduate in Mass Communication, he got most of his skills from watching tutorials on the internet. He has made designs for Uber, Smirnoff, and even LVMH.
Last year (in 2021), he sold his an NFT called the Indigo Child for $4,140 on SuperRare. His art was also showcased at an NFT exhibition by Art X that was curated by Osinachi in the same year.
Rich Allela is a Kenyan artist. According to his bio on non fungi, he is an “Award-winning photographer Allela tells stories that celebrate culture & heritage. He uses technology to create immersive stories.” He has experienced challenges getting into NFT spaces. He told CNN that the minting fees and steep learning curve for NFTs are barriers to entry for artists like himself. Despite that, he has been successful on non fungi.
Phumulani Ntuli holds a Masters in the Fine Arts–Arts Public Sphere from Ecole Cantonale D’Art du Valais (ECAV) in Sierre-Switzerland. He has been awarded the Prix-excellence for his current research project, the “Permutations of an event.” Accorfing to his bio on Latitudes, “Ntuli’s opus merges the ambit of artistic research, sculpture, video installations and performative practices.” He is expected to exhibition at the upcoming Invictus Lab Out of Africa collection that is aimed at bridging the gap between traditional art and NFT art.
Musa N. Nxumalo, also from South Africa, was introduced to visual arts through photography training at the Market Photo Workshop that took place from 2006 to 2008. During the workshop, he completed the Foundation and Intermediate Courses. In 2008, he was award the Edward Ruiz Mentorship program. His first solo exhibition was a year later in 2009 which exhibited his photographs both locally and internationally, giving him a stepping stone into a career in visual art. Nxumalo has worked in various institutions including the Everard Read gallery, Market Photo Workshop, the Turbine Art fair, and the Botho Project Space. He currently works as an arts administrator, has founded a studio for curating artworks as well as managing visual artists, and is engaged as a student at the university of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Nxumalo is also expected to exhibition at the upcoming Invictus Lab Out of Africa collection.
Lerato Lodi was born in 1996, in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria, South Africa. She is a painter who is currently studying M-Tech Fine Arts Degree at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria. According to her bio on latitudes, her “artistic practice explores themes centred around her spirituality.” Lodi’s bio summarises what inspires her paintings. It goes on to say, “ She uses acrylic paint on canvas and beads and cloth to interrogate ideas and ideals of African spirituality and Christianity as it manifests in her own life and the lives of those she encounters.”
She has participated in a number of art exhibitions, including the Blessing Ngobeni Studio Art Award at Room Gallery, the Genesis X’Ibition at Pretoria Art Museum (2018), the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize Group Exhibition at Aspire Art Auctions, The Aesthetics of time: in space of time at Polokwane Art Museum and the Genesis Group Exhibition at Bkhz Gallery (2019). Together with other traditional artists, she is also expected to exhibition at the upcoming Invictus Lab Out of Africa collection.
61 year old JP Meyer, is a South African artist and ceramicist currently based in the small town of Porterville. He quit his job in 1996 to study art full time at The Foundation School of Art in Cape Town. He graduated after four years with a Diploma in Fine Art (Painting). JP uses images and symbols from pop culture, historic manuscripts and prehistoric mythology to make paintings that have little predetermined narrative. He is expected to exhibition at the upcoming Invictus Lab Out of Africa collection alongside his fellow traditional artists.