ZAM Reporter

01.11 – 28.11.23, Amsterdam | Lemi Ghariokwu – The King of Covers

A selection of thirty designs by the Nigerian illustrator and designer, will be on display at Amsterdam-based record shop Rush Hour Store. An exhibition organised by Africadelic in collaboration with Mano A Mano Produções and ZAM.

A selection of thirty designs by the Nigerian illustrator and designer, will be on display at Amsterdam-based record shop Rush Hour Store. The renowned artist, best known for his long-standing collaboration with Fela Kuti, the father of Afrobeat, will be present at the vernissage on Wednesday November 1 and give an ‘artist talk’ on Friday November 3. Furthermore, Ghariokwu will be one of the guest speakers at Fela Day on Friday October 27 in Tolhuistuin.

Ghariokwu (1955) was born in Delta State, but moved to Lagos, Nigeria’s economic and cultural capital, at a young age. He trained as an engineer, but developed self-taught as a painter and designer. In doing so, he was particularly inspired by Kuti, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah and Steve Biko. Ghariokwu’s work is rebellious, humorous, political and sometimes erotic. The collaboration between designer Ghariokwu and musician Fela Kuti began in 1974. Fela Kuta, a fierce critic of Nigeria's rulers and passionate Pan-Africanist, gave Ghariokwu a free hand. In total, the artist designed 26 cover designs for Kuti, all compelling and provocative storytelling, both realistic and iconic.

Kuti, however, did not remain his only client. Ghariokwu’s work includes over two thousand designs and he collaborated with Lucky Dube, Gilles Peterson, Tony Allen, Ebo Taylor, Miriam Makeba and many others. Commissioned by the then director of MTV, Mark Rosenthal, he created the painting Everybody's Gotta Be Somebody, which inspired the documentary of the same name in 2004. Over the years, Ghariokwu put together several retrospectives in African and Western art institutions. His painting Anoda Sistem (2002) is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

A selection of thirty unique designs by Ghariokwu is now on display next month at Rush Hour Store, the Amsterdam record shop that has been synonymous with musical innovation for twenty-five years. The vernissage will take place on Wednesday November 1 at 5pm in the presence of the artist himself, who is travelling to the Netherlands especially for the exhibition, and an ‘artist talk’ with Ghariokwu will take place on Friday November 3 at 5pm. He will also perform as a guest speaker during Fela Day in Tolhuistuin on Friday October 27 and will give a master class for students at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy on Thursday November 2.

Lemi Ghariokwu: The King of Covers is an initiative of Africadelic, a non-profit organization operating from Paradiso, and Rush Hour Store, in collaboration with Mano A Mano Produções and ZAM Magazine, and with support from the AFK and Mondriaan Fonds (Slavery Memorial Year). The exhibition, including the vernissage on November 1 and ‘artist talk’ on November 3, are free to visit(no registration needed), and tickets for Fela Day on October 27 can be ordered for €21 via the website of Paradiso. More information on all upcoming events can be found at