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From "Le Bon Voyage—Brooklyn." Photo by Tabi Bonney, courtesy of the artist.

Togolese Musician Tabi Bonney's Photo Exhibition Celebrating Ethiopian Ethnic Groups Is Coming to Okay Space

"Le Bon Voyage—Brooklyn" is a stunning portrait series that pays homage to the Suri people of Ethiopia.

You won't want to miss Okay Space's first show of the year.

Togolese musician Tabi Bonney and curator Erik Pettie present Le Bon Voyage—Brooklyn, a photo exhibition that celebrates Ethiopia's ethnic groups.


The project evolved from Bonney's 2018 travels to Ethiopia, where he initially was there to research farming practices in the country, as he has a coffee farm of his own in Togo. He was introduced to and inspired by the communities he came across and their beauty, traditional fashion and illuminating pride.

From "Le Bon Voyage—Brooklyn." Photo by Tabi Bonney, courtesy of the artist.

"It was not my intention to shoot," Bonney says in a press release. "Upon staying in the Omo Valley and meeting the people, I saw them as my African brothers and sisters. With it being my first time in East Africa, I realized how similar we all are. Whether it be Africans on the Continent or African Americans in the States, I saw familiar personalities, facial expressions, energy, etc. It made me realize that we are all are truly the same worldwide."

Bonney's photo subjects are people of the Suri (Surma) ethnic group. The semi-nomadic cattle herders live by the Omo River and are known for their body paint, scarification and lip discs—a sign of beauty and social status, especially for women.

From "Le Bon Voyage—Brooklyn." Photo by Tabi Bonney, courtesy of the artist.

They are considered to be a "disappearing tribe," as their culture and way of life may not survive another decade.

Bonney continues:

"I shot these portraits from a beauty and fashion aspect. I saw richness and ingenuity, whereas others may have seen something else. I saw that our people—no matter what circumstances,social status, or where we are in the world—have the ability to make the most out of even a little."

Le Bon Voyage—Brooklyn opens Thursday, January 17, 2019 at Okay Space with an opening reception from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. RSVP here.

The exhibition runs through February 18, 2019.

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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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