The Arts

December 26, 2023

When Izu’s Million Mile Experience showed in Lagos

When Izu’s Million Mile Experience showed in Lagos

Izu Okwuobasi

By Benjamin Njoku

American-based Nigerian photographer, Izu Okwuobasi, has staged his first solo photography exhibition titled ‘Obodo Oyinbo: The Million Mile Experience’. The exhibition, according to the artist, is multi-faceted, deeply personal and a unique portrayal of America through a Nigerian lens.
Held on Saturday and Sunday, December 16 and 17, in Lagos, Izu described his journey into photography as a random act. A US-based Nigerian engineer who mostly works on construction sites, Mr. Izu noted that his job brought him before picturesque locations fueling a need to capture and document them.
“My career at the time, as a field and construction engineer, became the vessel for my exploration of America. It led me to the corners of the country that narratives often leave untouched – the swamps, plains, mountains and quiet towns with stories waiting to be told.
“‘The Million Mile’ is a metaphor for all the collective miles of migration of Nigerians out of Nigeria in search of greener pastures. It is also a metaphor for all the miles that I’ve traveled to capture these photos and bring you this experience.”
“My father, alongside his brothers, ventured to America in pursuit of ‘greener pastures,’ a journey many from our homeland of Nigeria have aspired to. Tragically, his life was cut short, assassinated just three days after I turned 18. His untimely death left a void and a legacy I felt compelled to continue,” he said.
Captured over five years, Izu said that every photograph on display holds a special feeling for him.
“As I traversed this vast land, I captured moments of raw beauty and truth: horses galloping across a native American reservation in North Dakota, the solemnity of a Civil War graveyard in Vicksburg, the haunting silence of run-down towns like Brooksville, and the iconic grandeur of Mount Rushmore. These photographs, shared online, resonated with many, revealing an America that exists beyond the silver screen and postcards, the ‘real America’.
“As we stand at the five-year mark of this journey, it is time to weave these threads into a narrative that not only pays homage to my father’s memory, but also invites viewers to see America through another set of eyes – the eyes of a young Nigerian bound by hope, loss and the relentless pursuit of a dream,” he said.