Using only African designers, Gida is a creative journal dedicated to being “by and for Africans”
Translating to “homegrown”, issue one of Gida features contributors, artists and designers from West Africa. We speak to founder and co-editor Momo Hassan-Odukale and co-editor Mira Makadia about their journey so far.
- Olivia Hingley
- 14 June 2022
“Moving back to Lagos from London gave me a new perspective on accessibility and opportunity for visual arts in Africa,” begins stylist and creative director Momo Hassan-Odukale. “Gida stemmed from a drive to connect with creatives and communities in the countries around me, and wanting to platform work by upcoming and underrepresented visual artists to develop their work, get paid, and exist in print.” A seemingly momentous task, Momo and co-editor Mira Makadia, a London-based researcher and creative consultant, have well and truly risen to the challenge, creating a stunning, deeply considered and unique publication that kept to the core ethos of platforming African creativity throughout every aspect of the creative process.
Taking a lot of aesthetic inspiration from vintage African photo books, vinyl, cassettes and other ephemera Mira says that looking back to African design history gave the duo “the confidence to be bold and maximalist while maintaining a sophisticated aesthetic”. Adopting a very hands-on process, Mira and Momo favoured physical research over a digital approach, leading them to have a greater appreciation for the material attributes of the publication. “This inspired the cover, which turned out to be one of our favourite aspects,” Mira details. “It’s linen embossed and has a beautiful woven texture. The cover has meant that Gida is a journal that needs to be felt as well as seen.”
This attention to detail also translated into choosing the designers and design aspects applied throughout the publication. The publication’s name, Gida, Momo explains to mean “homegrown” in Hause, a Nigerian language predominantly spoken in the northern regions of the country. This definition represents the team’s desire to have publication be “by and for Africans”, and one thing they were determined to do was bring on an African designer, and commission a typeface by an African artist. Knowing they only had the budget licence to use one font throughout the publication, selecting the right one was essential. “We waded through heaps of stereotypical, ‘tribal-inspired’ typography”, explains Mira, before they settled on Freight by Joshua Darden, an African-American type designer who published his first typeface at 15 years old. A refined typeface with classic, timeless qualities, it perfectly enhances the sophisticated and elegant visuals of the publication. For all other design elements, the team looked to their “supportive community of creatives”, who introduced them to their designer, Onyinye Dike.
Both Mira and Momo have selected a stand out feature in the journal. Mira, lands on a visual essay Ekpere ji ji: traces of delight in 1990s South-East Nigeria architecture, by photographer and writer Immaculata Abba, which weaves family history, historical survey and photography. “The feature is more than an essay,” Momo says. “It reveals an unrecognised aspect of African architectural history and is an evidence-base case for the preservation and documentation of a unique cultural heritage.” Mira highlights the story Sutigi, by Malian photographer Fatoumata Diabaté for its brilliant documentation of dress, youth and nightlife in African cities, but also for its personal pertinence to the project: “Fatoumata used to be Malick Sidibé’s assistant in her youth – his work has been such an inspiration to us so it was a wonderful coincidence and an honour to include her work in Gida.”
Going forward, the team wants to continue putting their efforts into spreading word of Gida around Africa and for it to be seen as “accurately portraying the creatives on the continent”, says Momo. Moreover, Mira expands, “we are especially dedicated to supporting local business and artisans over time and we hope the entire process of creating Gida will be African based, from production to printing.” We can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
Nuits Balnéaires: Grand Bassam for GIDA Journal Vol. 1 (Copyright © Nuits Balnéaires, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.