March 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Of the many pictures I have snapped during my trips to Nigeria, many of my favorites have been those of children. From children wrapped up on their mother’s backs, to children selling goods, there are literally kids EVERYWHERE! I’ve tried to figure out why I’m so fascinated by the kids I have come across, and although I haven’t quite pinpointed it yet, I think it has something to do with their seemingly independent and fearless attitudes.
Between my trips to the oja (market), visits with family, and 8-hour road trips around Nigeria, I picked 5 of my favorite photos in which children are featured. I tried to rank them, but alas, I could not. I love them all the same Enjoy!!
1. “Isu (Yams) For Sale”
In the midst of all of the bustle and hustle of the streets of Ibadan, Nigeria, I captured a shot of a young girl, who, along with her yams delicately balance on her head with the help of one hand, seemed to command her own space.
2. “The Good Life: Sleepy-by-Baby”
During a visit to a pharmacy in Ibadan, I spotted this baby, wrapped up, and sleeping peacefully on his mother’s back. Like a true photographer, I asked for the mother’s permission before snapping the picture. By the look she gave me, I could tell she was wondering what I found so interesting about a sleeping baby. Aside from the colorful wrapper, and how cute his chubby cheeks looked pressed up on his mommy’s back, I wanted to re-live my own mommy back riding moments vicariously through him. It’s good to be a baby!
3. “Omo odun melo ni e?”
Even though my parents have spoken Yoruba to me since I came out of the womb, I didn’t realize until I went to Nigeria that in my 25 years on earth, I had never actually heard any little children speak Yoruba outside of Nollywood films. Can you imagine? That being said, I couldn’t help but be tickled hearing this little girl speak. Yoruba is a sweet, sing-songy language as it is, but spoken by a child? It’s beautiful. First lesson she taught me: how to ask someone’s age. “Omo odun melo ni e?” Joy!
I’m usually pretty good at catching shots of my muses without their knowledge. But everyone once in a while, I get caught mid-click. Case in point: this little girl’s eyes are deadlocked on my camera. What I find most amazing about this picture was that I was no less than fifty meters away from the girl in a moving car (hence the slight blur), and shooting through a tinted window (hence the slight graininess). Yet, in that split second, she engaged. Awesome.
5. “Extra-curricular Activities”
Who said school had to be all about learning the alphabet and arithmetic? It’s about having fun too! During a failed attempt to bargain down a pair of 800₦ (Naira) sunglasses, I caught out of the corner of my eye a couple of school boys somersaulting off of a stone slab stuck in the ground. Never wanting to miss a photo opportunity, I paid my sunglasses dealer his money, and started snapping away at the boys. Nothing like a few somersaults to celebrate the end of the school day!
February 8, 2012 § 6 Comments
Let me tell you about my grandfather…
To most of the world and Nigeria, he was known as Professor Sam Aluko, “economist”, “professor of professors”, and “man of principle”. But to me, my siblings, and my cousins, he was known simply as grandpa.
When my oldest brother broke the news on Monday, I crumbled to my knees. “Oh nooooo….” was all I could say, “Why…??” was all I could think. After all, I had just spoken to him on the phone over the weekend; I had just seen him in Akure a month ago during my trip to Nigeria. I remember sitting around the dinner table with him, grandma, and my mom, eating pounded yam and apon soup, giggling as he dozed off on the couch watching “The King’s Speech”, and laughing heartily during devotions as bible stories segued into tales about his experiences in the UK as a scholar. Only grandpa could make evening prayers so funny!
As I read through the numerous online stories about grandpa, it’s clear that people loved grandpa for his fearlessness, his insight, and his principles. I loved grandpa for his heart, his humor, and his compassion.
There are really not enough words or space to share my memories of grandpa. But all I know is that I finally understand what people mean when they say to cherish every moment because life is precious. I’m happy I had the chance to tell grandpa I loved him, and the opportunity to bask in his presence during my trip to Nigeria. Grandpa wouldn’t want us to mourn his death; he would want us to celebrate his life because he lived such a vibrant one. So that’s what I am doing.
Earth may have lost a gem, but heaven has received an angel. And I know God will laugh just as hard at grandpa’s stories as I did!
January 27, 2012 § 4 Comments
“You’re welcome, you’re welcome”. Everywhere I went in Nigeria, people greeted me and each other with this salutation. It’s been a little less than 2 weeks since I got back , and to be honest…I miss it.
I hadn’t been to Nigeria for TWENTY-ONE (21) YEARS before this trip! Ridiculous, I know. Aside from stories from friends and family who had traveled back and forth, I had no idea what to expect. Would I stand out? Would Nigerians make fun of my butchered Yoruba?!? Would they welcome me back with open arms?!
Yes, No, and Yes!
I tried to fake the funk, but definitely couldn’t fake the accent. The minute I opened my mouth, I was exposed. AMERICAN!! Dangit!
Tried to mutter a few words in Yoruba. “Uh, eh…mo bo Yoruba da da, sugbon, mo le so Yoruba die die (I understand Yoruba well, but I can only speak Yoruba a little bit).” I must have said that a million times during the trip. Yet, people didn’t make fun of my failed attempts. I think they were more amused at the fact that I could speak any Yoruba at all…and that I used the word sugbon (“but” in English). I think only people speaking conk (concentrated, heavy, village-strong) Yoruba use sugbon in sentences. Ah well…
I miss the love. And not that there isn’t love in the States, but it’s a different kind of love. It’s hard to explain. Maybe once I figure it out, I’ll write about it. But that feeling of being welcomed back, without any pretense or questions…man, it felt good!
January 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Still recovering from my 3-day trip from Nigeria back to the States. The trip really shouldn’t have taken that long, but what was supposed to be a 1 hour stop in Ghana to refuel because of the fuel subsidy wahala in Nigeria turned into a 1-day layover because of brake issue on the plane. Soooo, I took full advantage of the delay to make it drizzle on a local Ghanian market (because the dollars to cedis 1 to 1.5 exchange rate kind of limited my rain lol).
Of course, I made sure to snap a few pics with the locals during my shopping expedition. Let me introduce King and Wisdom! King is behind the camera, and hooked me up with some good deals with the clothes and jewelry I bought from his shop. As is the normal reaction when I whip out my massive camera, he burst out laughing, and then called his friend Wisdom over to take pictures with me. Good times, good times…
Oh, and this is one of the first signs I saw when I got to Ghana. This is what I call a true zero-tolerance policy!
January 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Flights don’t go-o!
Nigerians have caught the “Occupy” bug, and while I think the protests are perfectly justified, I’ve got to admit, the selfish side of me is thinking that the timing couldn’t be any worse.
Because strikes mean no workers, which means I won’t be leaving Nigeria until Friday…and that’s IF things go as planned. Good thing I packed a lot of undergarments…
Tempers flared, and gate agents looked exasperated as angry passengers yelled at them, and cursed their existence. It was serious, but also kind of hilarious lol.
Anywho, I decided to do some recording so you could see how upset people were about their cancelled flights. I guess I too will be doing my own version of ”Occupy Nigeria” although under different circumstances. But who am I to complain??
December 31, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Happy New Years everyone! Since I’m a good 6 hours ahead of East Coast, United States, I’ve been celebrating for a good…4 hours now. And I’m borderline delusional from lack of sleep.
I’ve spent the past 25 years of my life celebrating New Years in church. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but this year, I was excited to switch it up for once!
So I told mother dearest, “No mom, I will not be going to the watchnight service at the church with you and aunty, I’m off to a pah-tee!”
Trust Nigerian people though, if there’s one thing they don’t play with, its prayer. Twenty minutes after my cousin and I arrived, we were handed…yes, a “Watchnight Service Order of Events” program! After singing the classic Nigerian favorites (“Now Thank We All Our God” etc, etc), and praying for Nigeria, it was party time! Complete with about an hour and a half of banga aka fireworks of course, including one a kid threw next to my chair. Not funny.
Anyway, I’m actually happy about how it worked out. Wouldn’t have felt right about ushering in the New Year without God being front and center. Be safe out there tonight everyone!