I am not against a child helping her mother out to make ends meet in the home, but let’s be fair, a child is a child. Children want to play eat and sleep when they are not going to school, at least that is what they do since they can only be seen and not heard according to many adults. So why should a child become bread winners if they can’t be heard? It is like saying that a boy of a certain age should not allowed to watch a movie with violent content but we put a gun in his hand and make him a child soldier or that a girl should not watch a movie with sexual content yet she is married off before she turns 18. Children should be allowed to be children: play with their dolls, play in the sand, play in the rain too; children are children only for a short while. When they become adults they will be adults, then they can take up breadwinning responsibilities after all they didn’t ask to be born.
Jos! Plateau state is the most beautiful place I’ve been to recently with lush lands, mountains and plains. To see this you have to go by road and then enjoy the view. Little wonder the whites are attracted to this part of the country – the weather tries to keep their bodies as cool as it can get.
My job as a development photographer has given me the opportunity to travel to places I wouldn’t go on a usual day. I saw interesting things and a people who are a lot slower than the people from where I came. It made me laugh after my work was done but while I was working, getting from one place to another was quite annoying as the taxi driver would take his time while driving and listening to his music not minding if passengers were in a hurry or not. I once asked on driver politely if he could step on it’ and he just smiled and asked me if I was in a hurry, I thought my quick ‘yes’ would propel him and make him drive faster but that was the least of his problems at that point and to make matters even worse he just brought out his Phone and called someone who I suspected would was his girlfriend considering his hush tones. I think the difference between the drivers where I am from and in Jos is their age. There in Jos the drivers are mostly youths and so they have their entire lives ahead of them. The drivers from where I came are so old you wonder why they are still driving, they probably want to make the most of what’s left of their lives hence the ‘no time’ attitude.
I tried every new fruit I came across, any new food that I’d never tasted didn’t pass me by. And so on one of our trips I saw this strange orange-like fruit, everyone except I was happy to see that fruit, they said it reminded them of their childhood. Well I wouldn’t say I wasn’t happy, I was rather excited to be tasting something new. We all came out of the vehicle to buy this thing called Jioh in Hausa (Please Jos People help me out with the name and spelling). I was more excited to be taking a photo of Jioh so I brought out my camera and as usual this boy hides his face in disapproval. I assured him that I only want to take a photo of the fruit and so he lets me; using the fruit to cover his face.
The fruit has a flesh and seeds like that of African cherry or Agbalumo as we usually call it. Nobody advised me to not chew the flesh with my teeth. It is so sour, three days later I still could not chew anything! My molars felt dead and sensitive I had to swallow everything.
In all it was one of the most amazing trips I’ve had in a long time.
Time stood still one night and looking for a means to pass the time, I picked up my camera and tripod to try to perfect this art of Bulb Photography. Just standing by my room window and observing cars go by.
Okpa is a meal made from Bambara nut. Bambara nut looks like giant bean seeds and is not as easy to cook as normal beans; it takes a really long time. In a city like Abuja where the cost of living is really high, some people can’t afford to eat lunch at a restaurant, if you want to make that a habit you should budget at least N1500 (about $5) which is high for an average Nigerian to spend in 5 working days. That amounts to N7500 (about $24) this can be the salary of an individual in other parts of the country in a month.
So average individuals patronize women like the ‘Okpa Woman’ as she is usually called by her customers. Once she arrives at a particular office, the one who notices her announces her presence to others and they all rush to buy before it finishes. Even if you are not ready to eat you need to buy it and keep it because before about midday, Okpa is all sold out.
This meal costs only about N50 ($0.16) – N150 ($0.48) depending on whether or not she included egg while preparing it. So if you buy two wraps of Opka at say N100 ($0.32) then you spend N1000 ($3) every week on lunch in Abuja. That’s if you don’t mind eating Okpa every day for lunch but that is how a lot of people survive in a city like that.
He was so mad that I had taken his photograph you see because he thought I was one of those street hustlers that forcefully take your picture and make you pay to collect a printed copy. I was too shocked at his disapproval to explain to him that I was the official photographer for the day’s event. Before he could cover his face I had taken the shot and for no reason I kept it even after I had delivered the job to the client. His facial expression confuses me, was he smiling? because I remember he was really upset so why the smiley face?
When I met her in January this year she just started her business at the market in Bodija, selling baby stuff, she didn’t look like my ideal customer but she gained my patronage by her demeanour and honesty. And unlike other customers of mine she needed to be extra nice to people so she could gain their patronage too. So I just asked her nicely if I could take her picture and she gladly obliged me because she knew she looked good that day which was a Sunday. I also got her neighbour who is also my nice banana girl to pose for me. The weather wasn’t so good for a naturally lit photograph but I was able to manage the little light that the sun provided that evening. It was good though and we had fun doing it.
Malala believes that every girl should and has the right to be educated, it doesn’t matter what tribe, culture or religion she is from, she should be educated. Her words- ‘one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world’.
We had our own Malala down in the quiet town of Erunmu community in Oyo state Ibadan who spoke passionately about the education of girls in her community and the place of the Nigerian government and the educational system. Photographing her as she spoke was touching because as she spoke tears welled up in her eyes because of the challenges of education in her state. I had to stop my photographing and decided to do a video instead, even though the conditions for a video were not right I felt it was better to have to listen to what she had to say rather than see her speaking.
OneLife Initiative took the film of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who got shot in the head for speaking up against the Taliban in her small town of Swat Valley for prohibiting women from being educated, to Erunmu community. This was done to start up the conversation of the importance of girl education. We saw from their point of view the challenges facing the girl child. All the conversations were done in the native language which left me in limbo although I had to learn the word “importance of education” which was the Pataki èkó because it flew around a lot. All I had to do was stand behind my lens and watch things happen.