It has always been my dream to travel to Africa’s west and when the opportunity to come to Lagos availed itself, I seized it with both hands. My flight was uneventful, my passage through immigration & customs easy and as I walked out of Murtala Muhammed Airport’s doors into Nigeria, I was greeted by temperatures I presumed to be 40 degrees.
The first week was a typical “Get into a new environment and find your way around week.” Got my bearings from the hotel to CCA, to Chefvys, Yaba & then to Victoria Island and it was then time to dive into the mechanisms of CCA with an emphasis on the ongoing photography residency titled “On Independence & the Ambivalence of Promise”
Unlike other residencies I’ve had the opportunity to attend, this was different. It was at first difficult for me to understand but slowly I got to grasp the concept. This had an intellectual edge; we’d come in and just talk, do presentations, see other artists’ works and look at photographs critically and by the time the participants went out to take images, they really knew how to and why.
The most interesting activities for me was the research participants had to do on other artists as well as the presentations done by visiting artists and curators/critics. All were quite insightful but two will stay with me for a long time. Senam Okuzdeto’s “Ghana Must Go: Personal Narratives, Identity & Identification” and Tam Fiofori’s “History, Culture & Photography in Nigeria” with emphasis on 19thC Nigerian photographer J.A Green were truly a breath of fresh air.
The residency also set up a platform for lots of conversations amongst the participants be it at Bogobiri, Chefvys, the White House, the Shrine or anywhere else the participants assembled after hours. The friendships we formed and the endless conversations I had with Bisi, Jude, Jelili, Richardson, Gloria, Heta, Jide, Tam, Bode, Landry, Sabelo, Uche, Marja, Chidi… have left me more informed, enlightened and more equipped to live and practice in this century.
On a lighter note, the dinner party at Bisi’s was slamming. The food was probably the best I’d had in Lagos, got to meet Nigerian artists outside the residency and it was really cool dancing with guys we always relate to on super-formal levels.
Looking back, I believe what I brought back to Kenya far outweigh what I came with to Nigeria and thanks to the CCA Lagos family; Bisi, Antawan, Oyinda, Jude, Kemi & Gloria for what you’re doing for the arts in Africa.