This Photo Series Reunites Black Stars With Their 'African Counterparts'

Due to the effects of colonization and slavery, one of the major issues a lot of people of African descent face is the question of identity. The slaves were not only stripped of their freedom and humanity, they had their culture and history taken away from them as well.

This is exactly what US-based afrofuturist artist, Jessi Jumanji is battling within her latest series, Distant Relatives: Familiar Faces — which finds her pairing up famous black stars with "their native African counterparts".

The impressive series, which started when Jessi began exploring her family history, features celebrities such as John Boyega, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Daniel Kaluuya, and matches them with pictures of their Africans lookalikes that go back all the way to the 1900s.

Speaking with Afropunk about how the series began, Jessi said:

"I discovered some old family photographs after my grandfather died, and I was blown away by the striking similarities in appearance that have manifested through the generations.

I matched an old picture of my great-great grandmother with a recent picture of my aunt and it was spot on. It gave me a newfound sense of pride and identity."

About what she wants people to take away from the series, Jessi continued:

"I realize that for many black people in America, knowledge of self is a missing link because of the negative effects of colonization and slavery.

My studies in African history began to overlap with my interest in pop culture when I noticed that some of the photographs I’ve collected over the years resembled many of the black superstars we are fans of.

I wanted our culture to be celebrated in the same way. We should be fans of our ancestors. [The aim was] to show just how closely we are connected to our African roots, whether we realize it or not."

You can check out the rest of her work on her Instagram page.