When I heard the news that Pop Africana was closing, I felt that familiar pang in my chest. Yet another beacon of cultural pride and creative expression in the black community was going away for good.
We’ve all felt the void when beautiful black fashion magazines went the way of Suede and Honey, and mainstream publications failed to celebrate the black experience for more than an issue or two.
Pop Africana, founded by Nigerian-born, New York-based photographer/editorial director, Oroma Elewa, was the answer to our burning need to feel recognized and represented, and it explored African culture in a way that made us all proud.
The editorials were marked by a propensity toward innovation, avante garde sensibility and unbridled imagination. The cutting-edge photography, a credit to Elewa’s sharp eye, made Pop Africana‘s features hold their own weight next to Vogue or Vanity Fair.
But unlike those fashion glossies, Pop Africana‘s content was fixed on Africa.
Elewa helped transform the reigning perception of African fashion in Western society by celebrating its uniqueness and authenticity. African style was no longer a monolith, relegated to tribal prints and head wraps. Pop Africana depicted “Art Africano” as joyful, vibrant and bursting with creativity.
From the inaugural cover which featured Gaye McDonald wearing electric blue eyeshadow to the provocative and insightful content, Pop Africana was visually captivating and intellectually brilliant.
It was truly one-of-a-kind, and will be sorely missed.