Thursday, August 1, 2013

George Osodi Photographs The Monarchs of Nigeria

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Goerge Osodi is a Nigerian photographer, a documentarist as well as an artist. His work is used in news reports and also shown in art galleries around the world. His photo collection Oil Rich Niger Delta which focused on the oil exploitation in the Niger Delta was compiled into a book, Delta Nigeria - The Rape of Paradise and brought him to international spotlight.

Nigeria Monarchs is his next gallery exhibition and will be taking place at Bermondsey Projects
, 46 Willow Walk
 in London. From 11th  October– 3rd November 2013 (open 1-6pm Thursday- Sunday). The full exhibition is titled, “NIGERIA MONARCHS” The Custodians of Peace and Culture" and George Osodi writes about the photo collection;

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture,” said Marcus Garvey, one of the founders of the Pan-Africanism movement in the early 1900s, “is like a tree without roots.”

Documenting and archiving culture is the key to understanding origins and thus developing a sense of identity. Few would argue that in Nigeria, there are simply not enough cultural archives in existence. Nigeria, one of the largest and most important countries in Africa is rich in traditions and customs, both indigenous and modern as well as many different monarchies.

Pre-colonially, many Kingdoms have existed in this region, were governed by their Monarchs who managed inter-village diplomacy, carried out the will of the people and prevented tyranny before the intrusion of the British who also created some new kings and kingdoms from existing one. Though the monarchs hold no constitutional rule since the monarchy system was abolished in 1963 and became a republic within the commonwealth but the monarchy structure have remained relevant in the political landscape of the country.

These Kings command great respect /trust from their tribes. Although there is very little known about the many different royalties in Nigeria, they are considered to be a major part of Nigerian history. While there are no official figures of the number of kings in our current period the guess is that they are as many kings as there are tribes. Unfortunately, a lot of the newer generations cannot relate with or identify their traditional rulers.

Even today there are many tribal kings in Nigeria, vestiges of a former age their ancient traditions preserved, their wisdom and power still honored. Ancient customs/architecture, and fantastic finery, NIGERIA MONARCHS project will take us into the inner circle of many of these tribes in the person of their king.

Gorgeous formal portraits of each king, in full regalia, are accompanied by brief biographies and historical notes on the tribe and the rituals and history associated with each ruler. NIGERIA MONARCHS introduces us to a way of life rarely glimpsed, with anthropological roots as deep as any on the earth, as they make the transition into a new millennium.

The idea behind this project is to travel around this diverse country and go beyond the portraits to explore the subjects environments, being the custodians of our cultural heritage and peace makers, exploring their architecture and fashion with the view to showcase and celebrate them and to mirror the country’s great culture through their personalities. I am of the view especially in this time of sectarian and insecurity crisis, that people generally see the diverse nature among its various people as a strength and not weakness or divide.

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