To mark World Mental Health Day, Culture Trip celebrates the work of five visual artists from Africa whose work creates awareness surrounding mental health issues on the continent.
Mental health problems often go untreated, with as many as one in four of us suffering from them each year. Often it’s difficult to tell when our mental health is in jeopardy. In most cases it’s the stigma that prevents people from speaking out or seeking support. This discrimination towards mental health issues can be found across Africa, where it’s often the older generation who see mental illnesses as a ‘Western disease’.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
But times are changing, and a new generation seeks different ways to better understand the human experience. Artists of varied disciplines are using their skills and creativity to address mental health issues and to help others heal through the power of art and expression. Here are five visual artists from Africa who are taking on the challenge of raising awareness of mental health issues.
Nosipho Nxele is a self-taught illustrator and art director based in Johannesburg, South Africa. In her 2016 series Mental Squad, she discusses depression, anxiety and spirituality and uses a surrealist illustration technique to demonstrate the different stages of depression a woman can go through. It was based on her own experience of long unresolved mental health issues that left her bitter, broken and panic-stricken. Her use of colours was specific to the piece: the pink background represents a woman’s innocence, the black the cloud of depression and the white the peace the victim longs for. Nxele now sees the creative process of illustrating as a means of healing and repairing the deep emotional scars left by her depression.
Eloghosa Osunde is a Nigerian writer and visual artist whose work revolves around the topics of mental health, sexuality and identity. She’s an alumnus of the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop (2015) and the Caine Prize Workshop (2018), and her visual series And Now We Have Entered Broken Earth has been exhibited across the globe and was selected for the New York Times Portfolio Review and Photoville’s EmergiCubes. In Color This Brain, a six-part photographic series that demonstrates her consciousness of mental health, she sees her different emotional states in various colours and tones. She says of the project, “I know the exact colour and texture of my depression and my anxiety, my dissociation and my exhaustion. I know the flatness and madness and sharpness of all, the pace at which they breathe behind the eyes.”
Nobukho Nqaba is a 26-year-old performance artist from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. She graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town in 2012, and her work is inspired by deeply personal experiences. In 2016 Nqaba performed Ndiyayekelela (Letting Go) at the Also Known as Africa art fair in Paris. Although not directly addressing the single issue of mental health, her performance relays her feelings of loss and identity as she struggles to come to terms with the loss of her father. Nqaba uses objects such as overalls and blankets to symbolise the belongings her father left behind and to address an internal struggle as she wrestles with feelings of guilt, fondness and confusion.
Ken Nwadiogbu is a 24-year-old multidisciplinary artist from Nigeria whose hyperrealistic drawings illustrate global events and their effects on the human experience. The self-taught artist sees his work as being an emotive means of creating discussion surrounding sociopolitical structures and issues in society. His artistry is driven by a desire to change the way people think about themselves and the society in which they live. One of his pieces, inspired by the #MeToo movement, was even covered by CNN Africa. After receiving so much positive feedback on his incredibly poignant composition, he realised his role as “an activist on canvas”, lending his creative hand to uplift the voices of those who are shunned or overlooked by society.
With his realistic drawing The Value of Nothing, Nwadiogbu challenges his audience to see depression and suicidal thoughts as what happens when we base our value on what other people think of us, and a lack of self-awareness and self-appreciation.
Courage in Congo Project
The Courage in Congo project was started in 2015 as a 14-week psychosocial programme for a community of adolescent girls living in Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was directed by an arts educator and a specialist in behavioural health sciences who sought to help improve the mental health of these girls, who live in a community affected by prevalent sexual and gender-based violence. Together Christina Mallie and Nadia Fazal studied the community leaders’ perceptions of girls and their role in society and worked towards changing these perceptions through art and positive affirmation. With the belief that art has a therapeutic and transformative power, the girls decorated the walls of their neighbourhoods with murals based on the themes ‘Women in the Workforce’ and ‘The Development and Promotion of Women in Leadership’.
Wednesday, 10 October is World Mental Health Day. To highlight this, Culture Trip is looking at how different societies are shining a light on this important issue in innovative and alternative ways.
The content of this article is provided for general information only and is not an attempt to practise medicine or give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. The information contained in this article is for the sole purpose of being informative and is not to be considered complete, and does not cover all issues related to mental health. Moreover, this information should not replace consultation with your doctor or other qualified mental health providers and/or specialists. If you believe you or another individual is suffering a mental health crisis or other medical emergency, please seek medical attention immediately.
If you are experiencing mental health issues in the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email@example.com. You can contact the mental health charity Mind by calling 0300 123 3393 or visiting mind.org.uk. Please note there are no affiliations of any kind between the aforementioned organisations and Culture Trip.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.