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Photos: Vintage Nigeria A Memoir By Brad Ogbonna


"JISIKE," a memoir by Brooklyn-based photographer Brad Ogbonna records his return to Nigeria for the first time as an adult after  his father lost his battle to cancer. Along with his brother, Ogbonna brought his father's body to his homeland for traditional burial.

JISIKE is a dedication to Ogbonna's father—including found vintage 4x6's and Polaroid's of George Ogbonna Sr. in his glorious youth. These very personal photos and Ogbonna's candid and reflective prose seem to take us on a journey of self-discovery with Ogbonna as he critically connects himself to his father through pictures, tradition and place.

JISIKE reads more like an informed photo-journal than a memoir as it contains more photographs than text. Ogbonna captures gorgeous bird-eye-view shots of Nigeria's cityscape and geography. The images Ogbonna includes allows us to see Nigeria as he saw it—as many of the photographs poetically correspond with Ogbonna's easy anecdotes. There are beautiful and distinct portraits of people he meets along the way as well as wide shots of place—as if we are walking upon these scenes for the first time just as he had.

The book outlines Ogbonna's trip in real time—he details his dealings with his family and his father's estate arrangements and daily life in his home village of Nkwerre, as well as his arrival and travels through the struggling metropolis of Lagos.

JISIKE is more than just Ogbonna's personal anecdotes and reflections—Ogbonna also uses the memoir to critique the Nigeria he experienced through the lens of a first generation American. He offers poignant insight on the complacency of Nigerians and how that connects to the general woe and stasis of the country. He also brings up the attitude of conformity present in the psyche of Nigerians and how it has managed to continue into the consciousness of Nigerian youth in America. Though he acknowledges and spells out the many problems with Nigeria as a country, Ogbonna is able to capture and express a hopefulness and optimism that the country has better days ahead.

JISIKE emerges as a tangible and beautiful tribute to his deceased father, a contemplative look at what Nigeria currently is and an insightful conversation on what the country can be.

You can purchase the book and check out more of Brad's work on his website.

Ogbonna is also developing a documentary in conjunction with the book that is set to premiere in August. You can watch the trailer for the JISIKE documentary below.

JISIKE *Trailer* from bradley Ogbonna on Vimeo.

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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