Ekow Nimako, Bay of Banjul (The Abdication of Abu Bakr II), 2022. 120,000~ LEGO® elements. Banjul is the capital and fourth largest city in Gambia. Considering this region was part of the Malian Empire, it was chosen as the site for the grand departure of Mansa Abu Bakr II and his fleet of 2,000 ships.
April 10 – May 19

Building Black Civilizations

Journey of 2,000 Ships


Organized and circulated by Dunlop Art Gallery

Curated by Alyssa C. Fearon

In Building Black Civilizations: Journey of 2,000 Ships, artist Ekow Nimako explores what might have been when ruler Abu Bakr II chose to abdicate his throne and set out across the Atlantic. Using LEGO® to recreate epic possibilities, Nimako creates a narrative of Black civilizations and imagines liberated futures. 

About the show

This exhibition continues artist Ekow Nimako’s Afrofuturistic reimagining of ancient African kingdoms. Using LEGO® bricks as his medium, Nimako explores the mysterious 14th century sea voyage of the predecessor of Mansa Musa, ruler of the Mali Empire. According to legends, Abu Bakr II was an intrepid explorer. He abdicated his throne and took 2,000 ships on an expedition into the Atlantic, but never returned or was heard from again. Some accounts suggest the massive fleet reached as far as the Americas, but where they went beyond this is still unknown. 

Combining architecture, historical accounts and fantastical possibilities, Nimako transcends the geometric form of LEGO® to recreate the epic voyage. In doing so, he presents an uninterrupted and unco-opted narrative of Black civilizations and imagines liberated futures. 

About the Artist 

Ekow Nimako is a Toronto-based, internationally exhibiting LEGO® artist who crafts futuristic and whimsical sculptures from the iconic medium. Rooted in his childhood hobby and intrinsic creativity, Nimako’s formal arts education and background as a lifelong multidisciplinary artist inform his process and signature aesthetic. His fluid building style, coupled with the Afrofuturistic themes of his work, beautifully transcend the geometric medium to embody organic and fantastical silhouettes. 

Building Beyond: LEGO Kits 

Building Beyond is a fun and educational LEGO® activity for people aged 5+. Participants get to imagine – and build – their own distant futuristic descendants, while visual artist and creator Ekow Nimako shares critical insights on his sculptural work, the importance of Afrofuturism, and how LEGO® play can be used to rebuild a more inclusive world for us all.

Kits are available at Glenbow at The Edison for $60 + tax.

Three diverse and distinct faces made of LEGO elements featuring different crowns

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