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Viewing Africa through the lens

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By Prisca Sam-Duru

When the idea of holding an annual international photography festival was conceived by the African Artists’ Foundation,AAF, it was clear at the official opening ceremony of the exhibition, that the organizers never envisaged a massive turn out of a fantastic crowd comprising virtually, individuals representing nations of the world such that it exposed the organizers as lacking in a proactive approach to events management, and the essence of art as a pivot for socio-cultural interactions among people.

In what was supposedly an opening remark, the MD Etisalat, Steve Evans who couldn’t conceal his surprise resulting from excitement on beholding the overwhelming crowd which spoke volumes for an urgent need of a larger hall for a festival of such magnitude, ended up simply urging participants to enjoy the evening.

The photography festival tagged “Lagos Photo. No judgement, Africa under the prism’’, showcased an International collection of world class photography at the Eko Hotel and Suites last week by creative artists from both local and international scenes, to mark the 50th anniversary celebration of Nigeria’s political independence.

Each photograph with titles from the 25 contemporary artists which were displayed under different body of works namely tale of two cities, Niger Delta, New Lagos, Individuals; fractals, ramps & spirals, madame road and milk, posers, shelter, take me to the Hilton, Ringball, Delta life, God is alive, Lagos, Paradox, The final bridge, Global warming, Amarya, Lagos Street economics, Lagos State of mind vol. 1 Lagos how it works, The makers, evolution of our political landscape, Crown Troops, power of knowledge, The Zionist and Dream city, exhibited images that inform viewers of the artists’ individualistic experiences, identities of nations and most importantly, the early post independent election campaigns in Nigeria which has so far, received tremendous change, negatively though.

In Tam fiofori’s ‘Evolution of our political landscapes,’ photograph of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo mounting a podium while addressing his audience during his campaign in 1979; cheerful looking Nigerians in a mass rally etc all indicate the changes being talked about. The two-fingers raised as a sign of peace have been grossly replaced by the use of objects like bunch of brooms by political aspirants and their supporters to sweep away ‘bad’ people, while electioneering campaigns are distorted through diverse methods by opponents.

Fiofori’s body of work i.e. evolution of our political landscape however warns politicians of impending danger if they refuse to imbibe the spirit of nationalism for a new Nigeria to be born.

The final bridge, being a body of work with about 4 pictures, is an artistic intervention aimed at addressing an environmental issue, thus exposing the dangers of chronic filthy areas which inadvertently lead to outbreak of epidemics. This is not a decent photograph to be viewed by the outside world but at the same time, kudos to Toye Gbade for using this medium to create increased social awareness on such global issue at a time when life expectancy has dropped drastically with death caused by diseases as a resultant effect.

The photo festival which employs outdoor spaces: Muri Okunole park, Victoria Island, Awolowo road/Falomo round about, Ikoyi, MKO Abiola roundabout/park Oregun, Prof. Ayodele Awojobi park, Onike, Yaba and indoor venues such as Eko Hotel & Suites, The life house, Victoria Island, Fela Kuti Africa shrine, Ikeja, AAF Office, Ikoyi, Netherlands Embassy, Victoria Island, will also tackle issues of global warming on theme, ‘My Home is Here’ on the 25th October at The Civic Center, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island.

Among other the artistic must to be viewed photos exhibited are Jan Joseph stoks’ Congo war without end, capturing the plight of victims of the war-torn Congo. Here, children of murdered fathers, raped mothers are seen roaming the insecure streets, hungry and scavenging from the bins, items which they resell for tokens.

In the photos, unhealthy looking indigenes are also seen leaving with their families for over crowded camps. This no doubt, comes as a warning to the nation’s leadership and politicians as the 2011 presidential election draws closer. History must not be allowed to repeat itself otherwise, it will be more hazardous than it is in some war-torn African countries.

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