The outspoken Congolese-born– activist and Africa’s biggest art-collector Sindika Dokolo accuses parts of the art world of being hypocritical and racist; calls for Africans to wake up to their civil responsibilities; defends his wife Isabel dos Santos’ contentious tenure at the Angolan National Oil and Gas group (Sonangol) and expresses concern that the current Angolan President is receiving wrong advice on national issues.
During the two-hour interview Dokolo, who is renowned for shunning the limelight – despite being married to one of the most famous women in the world, Isabel dos Santos – he openly shares his passion and philosophy on issues that have been driving forces in his life.
While Dokolo is famed for being the single biggest African collector of African art, the interview goes beyond his acquisitions to explore critical questions relating to defining art by race or nationality. It reveals a man acutely aware of how the very concept of African art can rest upon assumptions that deserve to be questioned.
Dokolo also speaks about the controversial decision during the Venice Biennale where the Angolan pavilion, which he financed, had been allocated funding from MoMA until they threatened to withdraw the award as they did not want to be associated with someone with links to the government – by virtue of his marriage to Isabel the daughter of the then President, Eduardo Dos Santos.
The art collector does not bite his tongue speaking on the incident and what he perceived as racial undertones: “It showed the extent to which invisible doors are still closed and need to be opened.”
he tells the New African in the hard-hitting interview which also explores Dokolo’s pioneering work to ensure that illegally acquired African art is restored to its rightful owners.
Dokolo accuses parts of the art world of being hypocritical and racist;
Calls for Africans to wake up to their civil responsibilities;
Defends his wife Isabel Dos Santos’ contentious tenure at the Angolan National Oil and Gas group (Sonangol);
Expresses concern that the current Angolan President is receiving wrong advice on national issues.
It is, however, outside the arts that Dokolo has the most to say – notably his criticism of DR Congo President Joseph Kabila and why he made the decision to mobilise a 1.5-million strong movement against the ruling elite in his home country.
Dokolo, an astute the businessman in his own right, also speaks out about Angola, where his wife faces mounting challenges from the new government of President João Lourenço. He feels that many of the accusations against her are unjustified, and goes to length to refute them with facts.
He feels that the current President is being badly advised, and that as much as it is normal for him to want to be his own man, he needs to be wary of those around him who are taking over the economic reins and undoing the reforms of the previous administration.
The August/September issue is packed with many other wide-ranging features, including the cover story interview with Africa’s newest President, Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, in which he discusses issues from economic diversification to his vision for the country he inherited last April. In the six-page feature, he expounds on how he will lead the country to renewed growth, balance the budget and tackle the unemployment that has recently beset one of Africa’s most stable democracies.
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