Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Colorful, creative, inspiring: The world of African street art

updated 7:29 AM EDT, Fri September 27, 2013
To celebrate the best of African street art, CNN iReport asked for your submissions of the beautiful, political, or just plain fun.<!-- -->
</br>South African graffiti artist FALKO1 sent images of his striking work on walls in and around Cape Town. <!-- -->
</br> To celebrate the best of African street art, CNN iReport asked for your submissions of the beautiful, political, or just plain fun.
South African graffiti artist FALKO1 sent images of his striking work on walls in and around Cape Town.
HIDE CAPTION
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
Maputo, Mozambique
Kubuneh, Gambia
Fes, Morocco
Lago, Nigeria
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
Soweto, South Africa
Great Rift Valley, Kenya
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • African street art includes graffiti, inspiring murals, painted shop fronts
  • It provides an outlet for political voices and local culture
  • Cape Town is home to a thriving graffiti scene with a social message

Inside Africa highlights the true diversity of the continent as seen through the prism of different cultures and religions and the mediums of art, music, travel and literature. Follow the team on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Street art has forever been a vibrant tool of personal expression manifesting in a variety of unique ways. In Africa it comes in the form of beautifully painted shop fronts, alternative methods of political campaigning and striking murals designed to inspire.

To celebrate the best of African street art, CNN iReport asked for your submissions of the beautiful, political, or just plain fun.

Back in the 1970s it was a gritty subculture associated with the streets of New York City, but these days the underground art of spray can graffiti can be found around the world, and Africa is no exception.

Mozambican rapper Shot B submitted some of his work to iReport from around the capital city of Maputo. For him, being a street artist -- in addition to his musical exploits -- helps him share his voice with the local community

South Africa's skateboard art
Rapper uses wall as 'graffiti sketchbook'
How photographers documented apartheid
Transforming weapons to art

"This wall is working as a sketchbook ... Street is a space that I feel people can learn, and people can meet art and so that's what motivates me," he said.

Watch: Rapper turns to street artist

"I love doing graffiti because I think that's something straight related with me. I got love for the streets. I got love for spray cans."

The legitimacy of graffiti has been an ongoing discourse in developed nations for several years thanks to the rise in popularity of anonymous guerrilla artists like Banksy and Invader.

Similarly to Shot B, striking work by South African graffiti artist FALKO1 can be found on walls in and around Cape Town. Much of his work incorporates the design quirks of the building he is working on, to the effect that it often seems to have evolved with the building itself.

"I've been a graffiti artist with a strong traditional Hip-Hop influence since 1988," he said to CNN iReport. "I don't really consider myself a street artist but a graffiti artist/writer who dabbles in 'street art'."

Many rappers like Shot B and FALKO1 use graffiti as an extension of their Hip Hop-inspired expression. But street art is also providing others with a political voice.

While traveling through Morocco, iReporter Julee Khoo stumbled across a series of partisan murals. Intrigued by the designs, Khoo reached out to Moroccan colleagues who informed her that each local party is given public wall space to present campaign pledges, usually through election posters.

Read: Artists take epic Africa road trip

"Some parties have iconic symbols that represent them, so instead of posters, they use spray paint and stencils to paint the image of their party's symbol on the wall," she explained.

She added: "It's a much simpler, yet less wasteful, greener way to distribute campaign information. The wall also enables parties to interact with the illiterate members of the population.

"I can appreciate the value in having a symbol representing a party so someone who cannot read can simply pick out the identical symbol on the ballot in order to cast their vote -- makes the voting process a more accessible one."

It's a much simpler, yet less wasteful, greener way to distribute campaign information.
iReporter Julee Khoo

Meanwhile in Gambia, local communities are using street art as a way of presenting their culture.

Rimon Guimaraes, an iReporter from Brazil, captured a remarkable mural on a school fa├žade in Kubuneh. Created by his friend Noha, the mural is part of a larger body of work from the Wide Open Walls project, which aims to bring resident artists together to celebrate the Gambian communities while encouraging tourism in the region.

"I believe that the culture of Africans inspire artists of all the times," he said. "Modiglianni and Picasso are some examples of African influence in the art world."

In Nigeria, iReporter Edidiong Uwemakpan captured a stunning mural on the side of the Orange Academy offices, a brand advertising college in Lagos, Nigeria.

Created by local artist Kimson, the piece was commissioned by the college in the hopes of inspiring students by featuring several Nigerian personalities including musician and rights activist Fela Kuti.

"I like the fact that the artwork was done on the first floor of the building and the outer fence," he said. "Together it told a story of liberation of the mind, of freedom, of standing for what you love and succeeding."

CNN's Mark Tutton and Sarah Brown contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:15 AM EDT, Fri March 14, 2014
A huge spiral in the Sahara had Google Earth users baffled by what it could be. So what exactly is it?
updated 5:27 AM EST, Thu March 6, 2014
A photographer took to an ultra-light aircraft to capture Botswana's savannah from above. The results are amazing.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
CNN's Zain Verjee took on Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in a bid to see its mountain gorillas.
updated 6:20 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Morocco is famous for its historic cities and rugged landscape. But it's becoming known as a surfer's paradise.
updated 5:59 AM EST, Mon March 3, 2014
"The Samaritans" is a new Kenyan comedy that takes a mocking look at the world of inept African aid organizations.
updated 5:29 AM EST, Fri February 28, 2014
A Moroccan food blogger presents her interactive guide to the country's tastiest dishes.
updated 6:59 AM EST, Thu February 13, 2014
South African photographer Frank Marshall captured Botswana's heavy metal rockers as part of his Renegades series.
You might not associate Botswana with rock music, but in recent years its heavy metal scene has been making a name for itself.
updated 6:17 AM EST, Wed January 29, 2014
The ruined town of Great Zimbabwe is part of a kingdom that flourished almost 1,000 years ago, and a bridge to the past.
updated 6:39 AM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
A Cameroon supporter smiles during celebrations after Cameroon qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil after winning the second leg qualifying football match between Cameroon and Tunisia on November 17, 2013 in Yaounde.
Known for its diverse geography and culture, Cameroon could be on the dawn of becoming known for tourism.
updated 6:16 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
The world's only "Flying Eye Hospital" is a DC-10 jet that flies around the world carrying out sight-saving operations.
updated 6:25 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, explodes spilling lava down the mountain sides and shooting ash into the sky October 30, 2002 near the town of Nicolosi, near Catania, Italy.
A Kenyan TV production set in the year 2063 imagines a world where European refugees are fleeing to Africa.
updated 5:11 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
Tour d'Afrique
The Tour d'Afrique is a four-month, 12,000 km cycle race across the length of Africa.
Each week Inside Africa highlights the true diversity of the continent as seen through the mediums of art, music, travel and literature.
ADVERTISEMENT