Ethio(pics)

This post features a diminutive lady called Lucy, an emperor by the name of Haile, a few flip-flop wearing parasol bearing clerics, the Red Terror, Sylvia the suffragette, some spicy sauce, and St. George (or at least an eponymous beer).

You have been warned.

This week, Ben Huberman‘s challenge for the WordPress Weekly Photo challenge is ‘out of this world‘.

In framing his challenge Ben suggested that we ‘share a photo that takes a familiar scene — a place you frequent, a face you know well, an activity you engage in regularly — and makes it look and feel like something out of this world’.

I’ve always had a slight problem in answering the (right) question, or at least reading the question and then coming up with an appropriate answer.

In any event, Ben also said ‘Feel free to interpret the theme as loosely as you see fit. I look forward to seeing your photos!’. So, in a lazy moment, characterised by a certain slice of synchronicity, I found a hook for framing a post that I was going to write anyway.

The problem with my world at the moment is that the places I frequent fluctuate with a frenetic and feverish frequency. And the activity that I seem to engage in with the greatest frequency is that of being a frequent flyer.

Which is a rather long-winded way of sharing some snaps from my latest adventure. It’s not ‘out of this world’ but it was a new part of the world for me.

And I think that must count for something?

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connections

Those who were living now are dead
Those who were breathing are from the living earth fled.
If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower.

From the impassioned poem on the fire at Grenfell, by Nigerian writer, Ben Okri, whose poem, published in the Financial Times on 23 June, 2017 is a searing statement from which it is impossible to hide, impossible to avert one’s gaze, impossible to forget.

I wrote earlier this week about my arrival in London, on the red-eye from Lagos, and my efforts to both stay awake and entertained before being allowed to pass through the portal of my hotel.

I decided, after grabbing some breakfast, and scribbling a short poem, (which I published on Facebook), to walk along the South Bank to the Tate Modern. During my walk I found some inspiration by shooting the various vans being prepared for the hordes of tourists soon to fill the streets which at that time were still and relatively quiet.

What I hadn’t counted on was the degree of connectivity I felt with the things I saw and experienced that morning.

Continue reading…

In Wetin You Go Do?

In Wetin You Go Do?
– Title of an installation at the Tate Modern, created by Nigerian born Otobong Nkanga

The title of Nkanga’s piece, when translated from Nigerian Pidgin, an English-based Creole language widely spoken across Nigeria, is ‘What are you going to do?’. ‘In Wetin You Go Do’ integrates voice and sculpture to reflect on contemporary anxieties.

The theme of anxiety stitched a ragged thread through the time I spent lingering in the Tate Modern after my early morning arrival in London. Or perhaps, when visiting a gallery such as this, the feelings we have, that we bring in through the door, colour the way we see the exhibits, determine the way we select what to linger with and what to pass on by?

Continue reading…

DANGER (!)

I have still not quite become accustomed to the fact that the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge has switched from Wednesday to Friday (or even, more correctly, from Friday to Wednesday!).

I had become (more or less) settled into checking the site each Friday evening, and firing off a quick riposte to the challenge. Now it seems I’m always late to the party.

Oddly enough, this week, I did check the WordPress site at the appropriate time but have still managed to delay my response to this week’s challenge DANGER! until now.

In her challenge, Michelle spoke about ‘injecting this unexpected frisson of Danger! into an otherwise uneventful afternoon’.

Often, in Nigeria, it is not the unexpected frisson of danger, but merely the unexpected direction from which the, expected, danger might come that makes many a day anything but uneventful. That’s not to say that Nigeria is dangerous all the time, it isn’t, and I’ve made some good friends here, and you should all come and visit!

But, danger lurks everywhere, or so it seems.

I took this shot just at the entrance to the block of the building in which I am (temporarily and from time to time) living. It seems to fit the bill, no?

The building itself lies within a razor-wire fenced compound with permanent security. To gain entrance to the compound my driver (I’m rarely allowed out alone and certainly not expected to take the wheel myself) honks his horn (this is actually pretty much mandatory for any driving operation here, including driving in a straight line on an open road). That honk permits the outer gate to be opened. The boot / truck is then flipped and the security guys have a quick look inside, a mirror is used for a cursory check of the underside of the car, then the inner gate is swung open. And home sweet home.

On my journey to work, I thought I would keep a weather eye out for other signs of certain danger.

A fire, stoked by a stack of old tyres sending a thick black plume of acrid smoke into the (now mercifully dust free) sky. An abandoned mansion daubed with a black painted warning of dire consequences ‘EFCC Keep Off’. A herd of cattle being led by two young boys meandering along the margin between the half constructed buildings and the partially built road. The road-sweeper with a stick broom diligently dusting the edge of the roads as cars hurtled past with no obvious attention to lane discipline. The guy on a motor cycle happily heading against the traffic on the wrong side of the road (and of course he wasn’t wearing a helmet, no one does). The swarm of three wheel ‘Keke’ (rickshaw) taxis, weaving between the battered green taxis, blacked out government SUVs, and the ubiquitous road side sellers. And of course the frequent road blocks.

So, no danger here, just an ordinary every day ride on nigeriastreets

*Shot with Fujifilm X100F at f/2.1, 1/1000s, 23mm (35mm equivalent, no other choice) and ISO200*

Earth

‘This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy’
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I took this shot through a dusty and dirty emergency exit window on a British Airways Boeing 777, en route to Abuja from London, whilst standing in line to use the toilet. The image, taken on my iPhone, is, I believe, of part of the Sahara desert, and does not do justice to the grandeur of the site nor the feeling of isolation the view conveyed.

I read an article in flight on design plans for aircraft without windows, this would apparently save cost as the inclusion of windows requires additional strengthening of the fuselage. The windows would be replaced by cameras and clever screens. I wonder how often, when people look out the window on long haul flights, they reflect on what is passing by so far below. How different that world is, that earth, from the bubble in which we flash across the sky?

Anyway, I thought it worth sharing for this week’s WordPress challenge – Earth

iPhone 6s shot at 4.15mm, 1/1600s, f/2.2 and ISO25