CNN’s African Voices meets Tokini Peterside, the founder of West Africa’s first International Art Fair




On this week’s episode of African Voices, CNN International meets Tokini Peterside, founder of Art X Lagos, West Africa’s first International Art Fair.

Peterside explains to the programme how her love for art began at a young age: “I was encouraged to believe I could be whoever I wanted to be and could do whatever I wanted to do. I did grow up in a house full of art, but I also grew up in a house that gave me the freedom of expression of creativity… This exposed me, very early on, to an appreciation of the arts.”

Her appreciation for her country, however, came when she went to study in the United Kingdom. She describes her experience of that time: “When I walked into my school in the 90s, I encountered classmates with a lot of misconceptions about Africans and about Nigerians especially. I remember someone asking me a very silly question about the kind of house I lived in. I was coming from an environment where everyone was like me to boarding school where I found classmates who still had so much to learn about Africa. Living in the UK reinforced my sense of who I was as a Nigerian, made me much more fiercely proud, patriotic of that status in a way I hadn’t been when I lived in Nigeria.”

After school, Peterside went on to become a qualified lawyer before understanding her passion was promoting African art and artists. She reflects on what she loves about her city and why Lagos was the perfect place to realise her dream: “Lagos is a phenomenal place in that there is just this energy that permeates, people are so vibrant and dynamic. It’s infectious.”

Peterside outlines why she felt inspired to launch Art X Lagos: “The African continent has a phenomenal treasure trove of creative and cultural assets. My dream was that ultimately these musicians, fashion designers, artists and film makers would go out into the world and show that there is so much more to our continent than originally meets the eye.” 

The entrepreneur outlines her aims for the future: “My personal goal is to grow Art X Lagos to a point where it is a truly pan African platform. We want to work with artists, galleries and the art world across the spectrum in a variety of ways. My dream is to build a brand that becomes synonymous with African excellence – watch this space.”