Genuine African art presents a unique award opportunity
August 30, 2017
Are you considering presenting a unique award to a special person or organization?
If so, you can choose from a collection of 20 themed hand-carved original authentic pieces made in Africa.
Developed by artisans in West Africa, the art work is refined ad marketed by Adisa Oji who started Mother Africa’s Children Photographic Reproductions International (MACPRI) three decades ago.
The documentary photographer and photo historian visited Africa for the first time in 1991.
“During my travels to West Africa, I ran into young artisans who wanted me to bring them to Canada,” he said. “I told them that wasn’t possible, but suggested there are other ways we can work together to co-operatively support our work and development and make money to support our families.”
When artisans started asking Oji if he could help them market their art in Canada, he devised a plan.
“I thought if MACPRI is about change in the way we see and organize ourselves, then we could add a business component to it,” he said. “Over the years, MACPRI has evolved into what I call a very powerful international African business and development concept. Marcus Garvey talked about Black dolls, Black families, Black newspapers, Black organizations and anything that can uplift and elevate us. Most of the art that we use to show appreciation or accomplishment are from places other than our own creative genius which Marcus Garvey was big on. I thought why we can’t use the African artisans and the art they produce and transfer them into art pieces that can be used as awards.”
Based in Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, the carvers use ebony, rosewood, mahogany, odum and osese wood to create their pieces.
“Each sculpted piece has a story,” said Oji. “The main piece of the collection is called ‘Global Unity’. If you want to present awards of appreciation so the recipient would feel confident about themselves, the ‘Helping Hands’ Award would be perfect for that occasion. We also have awards that aren’t part of the collection for simply saying ‘thank you’.
The prices for the top-of-the line Ebony pieces range from $30 to $275.
As of October 14, A Different Booklist will become the first retail outlet in Canada to carry MACPRI products.
“These are wonderful pieces that we can share with people as we celebrate them, award them and salute their legacy,” said A Different Booklist co-owner Itah Sadu. “No more do we have to use those standard boring kind of plaques.”
Oji said the goal is to get at least 5,000 customers on board to purchase the products before the bookstore’s showcase.
“This is the artisans’ livelihood and how they feed their families and we want to make it worthwhile for them,” said Oji who launched Oware Canada seven years ago. “If you don’t want to buy an award for an organization or an individual, you can purchase one to honour yourself. By making a purchase, you are directly supporting development in Africa.”
For more information and pricing, individuals can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. or call (905) 794-9856.
Migrating from Jamaica at age seven, Oji completed high school at Central Technical and graduated from the University of Toronto with his undergraduate degree.
Taking advantage of ‘The Study Elsewhere Program’ that offers students the opportunity to enhance their educational experience by studying in different academic, social and cultural settings, Oji did his third year at the University of the West Indies under the tutelage of literary giant Edward Kamau Brathwaite before returning to complete his final year at U of T.
Oji, the descendant of Maroons and holder of a teaching certificate from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), said he felt the urge to visit Africa when he was in university.
“I made a few trips to Accompong (a historical marron village in Jamaica) in the late 1980s and early 90s with one of my Rastafarian uncles,” he said. “I also remember my mom saying that I would go under a tree and beat my pans and pots since I was three years old.”
Making his first trip to Ghana 26 years ago, Oji returned to the West African country in 2000 and, four years, later tied the nuptial knot. The couple has two children who have visited Canada.
“I applied for my wife to come here on a visitor’s visa, but the request was denied,” he said.
Oji, the younger brother of award-winning stuntman and filmmaker Roy Anderson, splits his time between Canada and Ghana.