John Akomfrah’s new multimedia installation remembers the millions of Africans who fought as soldiers or served as porters during the First World War.
Combining mixed archival sources with newly filmed material, artistic reflections and tableaux reconstructions, this groundbreaking work by one of the UK’s most celebrated filmmakers reveals how the conflict shaped the recent history of Africa and the lives of its inhabitants.
In 1914, both Britain and Germany controlled vast territories in Africa. Native men were enlisted to fight alongside Europeans on both sides, supported by an army of porters responsible for transporting food and equipment. Of the 100,000 deaths among British forces during the East Africa campaign, 90 per cent were porters and 45,000 came from Kenya alone.
Projected onto three screens, Mimesis: African Soldier tells a story of vast scope and enormous courage. In doing so it commemorates and celebrates the African men and women whose suffering has been neglected for too long.
Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, New Art Exchange, Nottingham and Smoking Dogs Films. With additional support from Sharjah Art Foundation.