Blowing the ‘Afere’ on Morrison Jusu’s social conscious paintings

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

By Osman Benk Sankoh

The ‘Afere,’ a powerful wind instrument blown during the outings of the hunting devil, a masquerade associated with a society of hunters in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown and its environs. Many Sierra Leoneans love the sound of the ‘Afere’ and they even dance to it during wedding and family parties and on other special occasions such as at the once-in-a-year East End Paddle parade.

However, for 24- year-old Morrison Jusu, a Final Year Civil Engineering student at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, his sense of the ‘Afere’ is reflected in the paintings that he sketches on social happenings, politics, and initially; portraits of his friends’ girlfriends as birthday presents.

Morrison’s says his first creative platform was through a group of like-minded friends. In 2016, ten of them came together to form a group called Afere. A friend, Mario Mackay, had seen his drawings and called for a meeting with mutual friends. “We chose the name because it draws people’s attention to our talents. We are blowing the Afere on our talents and others likewise,” he told Hidden Voices.

The Renaissance Artists such as Michael Angelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Pablo Picasso are his role models. In Africa, he idolises South African Nelson Makamo. At home in Sierra Leone, his role models are; the late King Dus and Angelo Scott. “As a student at The Sierra Leone Grammar School, I used to see Scott’s paintings whenever I am returning home from school. His work inspired me.”

The young artist, who made his first significant break at an arts exhibition in December 2016 at O-Casseys in Freetown realized at an early age that he had a passion for painting. “I was expressing myself more with drawing than words. It was my means of communication, including sketching directions to places whenever someone wanted me to show them the way to such places, he told Hidden Voices.