the MBARI STORY
Mbari is an art form of the Owerri-Igbo.
Members of the community were nominated as artists to create an art house. The house itself would be dedicated to the primary earth goddess, Ala. The artists would remain in the house working diligently to develop the house and they would fill it with intricate art pieces (in honour of the secondary gods), including sculptures, trinkets, and wall paintings.
An Mbari house could take years to complete.
The Mbari Club, Ibadan was a space to celebrate creativity. It was established in 1961 and was a meeting point for many artists of the time who were enthusiastic and optimistic about Nigeria's recently acquired independence. The club had a community of African literary legends including Chinua Achebe (who gave the club its name), Wole Soyinka, Christopher Okigbo, Lindsey Barrett and more. The club functioned as a creative space that showcased exhibit, music and theatre (Fela performed there). It also included a library.
"Mbari was a celebration through art of the world and of life lived"
- Chinua Achebe
"... it brought together a constellation of artists whose work embodied the quality of transformation embodied by the aesthetic of creation, decay, and regeneration evoked by the Mbari tradition"
- Toyin Adepoju
Members of the club collaborated to develop a magazine with founder, Ulli Bierie, titled the Black Orpheus. The magazine published the early works of artists that we recognize as giants of African literature.
The magazine and the club fell apart during the Nigerian Civil War.
Mbari the Story Place is an online space that serves as a community for creatives to share their art, engage and collaborate. Mbari is inspired by the Igbo concept of Mbari as creation, as a house of art and as a community of creatives. The goal still remains, to celebrate life through creativity.