Afrofuturist Ekow Nimako Uses LEGO To Embrace His Culture

afrofuturist ekow nimako lego hero IIHIH

Ghanaian-Canadian Ekow Nimako grew up feeling as though he really didn’t see much of himself in the world around him. Comic books, cartoons, music, even toys meant to foster his understanding of the world or his creative self didn’t accurately reflect the culture with which he was familiar or his people’s experiences. Now, as an artist, he’s doing something about it.

Afrofuturist Ekow Nimako LEGO art

Afrofuturist and LEGO free-style artist and instructor Ekow Nimako

Ekow Nimako is a self-proclaimed “Afrofuturist” which, in his own words, he defines as a cultural aesthetic; a movement that focuses on some kind of futuristic narrative centered on his people’s experiences.

Children from the Beyond Building workshop with their LEGO masks

The African culture is woven into everything he does, including his work. In an effort to bring what was missing in his own childhood to others, he runs a workshop for kids at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum called “Building Beyond” where the children can build brown-faced descendants of their own families with LEGO, helping them to engage and identify with their own backgrounds.

He also offers several Building Beyond single instruction Lego kits for kids or teaching through his website.

Beyond Building lego kits
Individual and collections of his Beyond Building lego kits, available on his website

You now know the ethos that makes Ekow Nimako qualified to teach a LEGO building workshop to BIPOC children, but what about the talent, imagination and logistical coordination it takes to build LEGO sculptures free-style? Just wait until you see his own LEGO Art.

Ekow Nimako’s free-style build of Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE, 2019, from his Building Black Civilizations collection, uses over 100,000 bricks

Ekow Nimako free-styles incredible – and I mean incredible- LEGO sculptures using only black-colored LEGO bricks and pieces. His artworks are all infused with the African culture whether the subject is mythology, anthropology or imagined civilizations.

lego free style sculpts
The artist with his Great Turtle Race, 2022

Below are a few highlights from his collections worth a look.

Building Black Mythos

These are artworks shaped by Black mythological narratives and other-worldly adventures

ekow nimako black mythology art
Ekow Nimako, If a bird can not fly, it goes to bed hungry, 2017, Lego bricks
black lego sculptures
Warrior Owl, 2019
Ekow Nimako's Flower Girl (2019) and Anansi (2021)
Ekow Nimako’s Flower Girl (2019) and Anansi (2021) each stand almost 5 feet tall.
Anansi (detail), 2022, LEGO
black mythology
Kadeesa, (Gryffx cub), 2020
ekow nimako lego
Garden Baby Ekua, 2019
Pieces from the Building Black Mythos series by Ekow Nimako
Pieces from the Building Black Mythos series by Ekow Nimako

See more pieces from this collection here.

Building Black Amorphia

These artworks thread together elements of West African mask-making, organic forms, and interstellar vessels.

Ekow Nimako's Building Black Amorphia Collection of LEGO sculptures
Ekow Nimako’s Building Black Amorphia series of LEGO sculptures

See more pieces from this collection here

Building Black Civilizations

These are a reimagining of medieval Sub-Saharan African narratives

ekow nimako Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE, 2019
Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE, 2019, was made with over 100,000 LEGO bricks
Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE (detail), 2019
the Building Black Civilizations series by Ekon Nimako
Pieces from the Building Black Civilizations series by Ekow Nimako

See more pieces from this collection here

We’re thrilled to see him spread his innovative and engaging ways to teach and inspire as well as to marvel as his own artworks. Be sure to see more at his website.

Ekow Nimako

all images courtesy of the artist.