Silhouettes of me

 

Stephen ÀjàdÍ

Ògbómòşó

I come from a big town called Ògbómòşó in South Western Nigeria. I think the life we live is a continuous journey to demystify ourselves by discovering more about the world. I am an architect, a planner and a political economist. I engage the world through these avenues and probably through some other unconscious ways. I am not ‘black’, or ‘black other’ like the online forms and media may suggest. I am not African, I am an African. I don’t know all that there is to know about me and I wonder why anyone will claim that they do.


Photo 1: Sunset at Ògbómòşó’

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I come from a big town called Ògbómòşó in South Western Nigeria. This was one of the last scenes I saw before I left it as a place I live in. It was more than a sunset, it was a phase of my life coming to an end. Now I go back from time to time as a ‘returner’. Ògbómòşó is my hometown, it is my town’s home, and when my town becomes a city, it will still be her home. It is part of who I am. I go back to stay alive. I go back to re-understand certain parts of me that wrap around my life and burrow deep into my dark silhouette—in places where only her soil can reach. 


Photo 2: On the wall

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I have a special curiosity for silhouettes. They have a way of accentuating form, beyond the parameters of geometry. I choose to engage the notion of my identity through this aperture that ironically juxtaposes clarity and obscurity. A silhouette is not fully seen— it lends a cryptic gesture of perception. You know you are seeing something, but you also know there is much more to what you whatever it is that you see. Isn’t this the underlining riddle of identity? It is baffling, it is humbling...it is strangely informative. I think there is so much more to who we are than what we even know about ourselves. I think the life we live is a continuous journey to demystify ourselves by discovering more about the world. I am an architect, a planner and a political economist. I engage the world through these avenues and probably through some other unconscious ways. I am not ‘black’, or ‘black other’ like the online forms here in Europe may suggest. I am not African, I am an African. I don’t know all that there is to know about me and I wonder why anyone will claim that they do.


Photo 3: Boy in Durumi  

boy in durumi.jpg

This image, is of me. It is of a young boy I barely know—displaced by conflict in northern Nigeria. He is far away from his home. He is in a new place...another place. I work hard to help the camp he lives in become a relic of the past; with stories of successes and happiness in its future emptiness. Through various avenues of empowerment, housing, skill, knowledge and a curation of pain...I help. Things to put things in perspective. He stands outside his baking hot plastic home in the sun and he looks at his brand-new neighbourhood. He is a little boy standing alone, outside...behind him is a tale too dark for adults. This is the identity we think he has. But what do we know? There is light in his front and time will tell what he sees now. Time will tell it to some of us, including him. This image, is of me. 


Photo 4: Mami mi 

mamai mi_.JPG

She is not me... No, not yet. I am not her...far from it. She is a part of me in me that is currently elusive. She lives in a camp of internally displaced people in Abuja Nigeria. I call her the ‘face of the camp’. She likes me a lot. She does not know how much strength she gives me, let alone how much strength she has. Maybe she does. I pray she does. She is 7 times more likely to be raped than a typical city dweller. She is far away from good healthcare and good food (she had not had food in 24 hours when I took this picture). She sleeps on a floor in a shack that can barely stand up to a zephyr. Most of her family are dead, far away. She does not even know them yet. But she can run fast...Gosh, she can run really fast! She makes cool sandcastles too and she can say her name. Anything she wears becomes beautiful and she has a way with the camera lens. Her smile is the silhouette of millions, standing at akimbo with unbreakable ranks. No, I am not her...but she is in me, somewhere and I will find her. Whenever I see her, I am happy and at peace, because I know she will help me find her in me.


Take away…

Let your craft take you to new uncomfortable places in your mind. That is where progress is usually made.

 
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