On a mild evening in June, hundreds of punters arrived at Espace Niemeyer in Paris for the Kaleidoscope Manifesto Festival. Wearing Telfar bags and bucket hats, those in the know made a beeline towards one highly-curated corner, designed to resemble a 1960s-style African travel agency. Retro-modern chairs upholstered in sage-toned leather were surrounded by anodyne office trinkets, while a chunky vintage keyboard and phone invited viewers to play. The words “Air Afrique” were plastered onto the back wall in bold black type, accompanied by a forest green antelope emblem.

Opening during Men’s Fashion Week, it was a star-studded—and very stylish—affair. U.S. rappers A$AP Nast and Aminé snapped photos behind the mock-reception desk, as did the Nigerian-born fashion designer Mowalola Ogunlesi. Mati Diop, the French-Senegalese director behind the prizewinning film Atlantics, showed face, too.

Images from an editorial series made for the exhibition Bienvenue à Bord in September 2021.

Photo: Djiby Kebe & Jeremy Konko for Air Afrique

The collective’s output reflects global efforts to promote and preserve African histories, an increasing priority for institutions both in West Africa, and far beyond. In Dakar, for example, the Museum of Black Civilisations opened in 2018, while the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is celebrating the work of trailblazing African fashion designers—like Alphadi and Seydou—at its ongoing exhibition Africa Fashion.

To keep the project moving forward, Diaoune, Thiam, Kebe, and Nuentsa are in the process of interviewing former Air Afrique employees and also seeking funding for a major exhibition, which they hope can visit all 11 of the airline’s founding countries. Reviving the in-flight magazine is high on their list of priorities, too. Their ambitions, it’s safe to say, are sky-high. “We’re going to have airplanes,” says Nuentsa. “And we’re going to take you from London to Abidjan.”

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