Em’kal Eyongakpa

Em’kal Eyongakpa
Em’kal Eyongakpa

Em’kal Eyongakpa originally studied plant biology and ecology. In addition to his interest in the environment, his mixed media installations, video, photography and performance also explore human conditioning, identity and the creation and consumption of information and ideology. The title of Eyongakpa’s multi-screen video work, Njanga Wata, comes from the pidgin English translation of the Portuguese, Rio dos Camarões. Meaning river of prawns, Rio dos Camarões, was the name given to the coast of Cameroon in the 15th century by the first Portuguese explorers and is the root from which the word Cameroon derives. Declared a German colony in 1884, Cameroon was divided between France and Britain after World War I. Although the French and British Cameroons came together in 1961, linguistic and political divisions remain. Eyongakpa observes how this history still impacts Cameroon, ‘being a state with one of the highest levels of literacy in Africa, it is absurd to observe how the socio-political thought patterns are still so much IN-DEPENDENCE to its colonial masters.’1 Through his work, Eyongakpa seeks to highlight the arbitrariness and irrationality of the imperialistic structure of imposed languages and names, asking ‘should people question who they really are irrespective of the names they are given?’2

Both symbolic and surreal, Njanga Wata takes seriously the legacy of colonialism, but makes light of the absurdity too. The cycling figure in the river, his head a pool of prawns, constantly pedals, but ultimately gets nowhere.

1 Em’kal Eyongakpa in an email to Bryony Bond 16 May 2012.
2 Ibid.


Em’kal Eyongakpa was born in 1981 in Cameroon. He lives and works in Cameroon.

Studied for a post-graduate diploma in Botany and in Ecology at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Solo exhibitions include Objectifs, Doual’art, Douala, Cameroon; performance of SUN is the MOON, Goëthe Institut, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Group exhibitions include Rencontres de Bamako: Biennale Africaine de la Photographie, Bamako, Mali, 2009; Synchronicity, Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France, 2011, ; Mo(ve)ments, Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2011; GAIA: Art Contemporain Aricaine, Atelier Richelieu, Paris, France, 2009.


Martin Barlow, curator of the exhibition Moving Into Space at the National Football Museum talks about the exhibition.

Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore, three of the exhibited artists, talk about their work and their interest in using materials which reflect the lifestyle and experience of the people of West Africa.

Twitter (#wefaceforward)

Creative Tourist


Street life, dazzling dress, social commentary and a riot of sensuous colour interweave in a rich assembly of West African art, writes Charles Gore in the Times Higher Education

Nine countries show off their talent as five city venues link up for a summer celebration. Helen Nugent in the Guardian