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A Photograph by Aghogho Otega
What happened here? Why has each item been left behind? A tragedy of owning things is that there is never a clear path from use to neglect, or from acquisition to loss. This is why those who leave their houses in a hurry are equally quick to decide on what is valuable and what isn’t. The truest way to sense an emergency is to note how easily people abandon things.
Aghogho Otega: “Many times I'm just a medium through which stories are seen and told.”
This photograph was taken in Tarkwa Bay, Lagos State.
A couple days after the forced eviction of the Tarkwa Bay residents commenced, I made up my mind to go in there and take pictures of what was going on . It was a tough thing to do especially for an independent photographer like me—I had to sneak in there. I took along clothes to change into as a guise and also avoid the soldiers patrolling frequently who were rounding up anyone they could find, or so I heard from the people I spoke to at the CMS jetty before leaving . During the 2 hours or thereabouts I was roaming the area I came into this courtyard with household items scattered all over as a result of the chaos.
This photograph is special to me because of what was going on around the world at that time—the tension between Iran and the US—with a lot of people speculating about war and excitedly sharing World War 3 memes and stickers all over the internet. With what I had experienced at Tarkwa Bay—the way people left their houses with their belongings very much intact, taking only what they could, having nowhere to go, starting life all over again—taught me that war, displacement or crisis isn't what people should be excited about, glorify and take part in .
My approach to photography comes from both observation and projection. Many times I'm just a medium through which stories are seen and told. My work is documentary-styled.
Photography is a great tool for sharing and storing information. I like how it has been able to change and improve the conditions of life overtime in places with underreported issues and inhumane activities when the visuals are seen.
Two more photographs by Aghogho Otega
Aghogho’s work focuses on “contemporary underreported social issues,” including fashion and the environment. See more photographs below.
Last Week — Rachel Seidu
Photography for me is showing the human in front of the camera without any kind of pretence. Everyone in front of my lens, I try my best to humanize them, and not treat them like just another person being photographed.
Photography is the truth. It’s preserving history for the future. Without photography a big part of history would be forgotten.
Read more: Young Herdsman in Jangaringari
Support Aghogho Otega
Thank you for reading and sharing this feature. Follow Aghogho on Instagram, and see more of his work on his website. He is also a member of the African Photojournalism Database (APJD).
Support Tender Photo
Welcome, new subscribers! This is the 19th edition of the newsletter. Every week I feature one photograph and the photographer who took it. You’ll read a short caption from me, and a statement from the photographer. My goal is to set up conversations with the work of early to mid-career African photographers. You can support the newsletter by asking anyone—or 10 people!—interested in the impact and meanings of photography to subscribe. And, if you know of any photographer whose work is deserving of attention, please email me with their name(s).
What readers are saying:
Grazing and gazing. I'm transfixed by this portrait of the cowherd in his black stallion print shirt, ramrod straight against the tree, hands crossed on the staff, gazing straight into the lens. A true tender portrait. — David Levi Strauss, on “Young Herdsman in Jangaringari” by Rachel Seidu.