Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

Laeïla Adjovi is a Beninese and French national who grew up in Gabon and South Africa. Adjovi studied political sciences and journalism in France and then lived in India, and New Caledonia, before moving back to the continent. A reporter and self-taught photographer, Adjovi is interested in documentary photography and photojournalism. She is passionate about themes related to social issues, daily life on the continent, and African cultural heritage. Fascinated by processing techniques and film photography, she constantly experiments in her darkroom while working as a radio and TV reporter from Dakar, Senegal, for BBC Africa.


Inspired by her background in documentary photography and journalism, Laeila created the series Malaika Dotou Sankofa – a photo series of a female character who personifies the notion of ‘breaking free’.

In both Swahili and Wolof – a language of Senegal – ‘Malaika’ translates as ‘angel’; in the Fon language of Benin, ‘Dotou’ translates as ‘strong, determined’, and in Ghana, ‘Sankofa’ is an Andinkra symbol of bird facing behind it. ‘Sankofa’ refers to the idea of learning from the past.

Using a variety of mediums in creating the wings, and photographing in film on a medium format, Malaika Dotou Sankofa tells us that when Africa rises – and yes, it is rising – it will happen on its own terms.

Laeila Adjovi is the winner of the inaugural BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS Award and Residency Programme with Siwa Mgoboza and Sikhumbuzo Makandula as runners-up.


“Art remained a natural impulse and a way to try and make sense of the world;

an inward movement as well as a way to connect.”

– Laeila Adjovi, Winner of Bright Young Things 2017

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