PhotoWaka Africa is spreading awareness of vital issues affecting the society through their photo walks.
Ojuelegba, the 2014 single from Nigerian’s singer Ayodeji Balogun’s (Wizkid) second studio album has a catchy beat that could send anyone into a feet-tapping and head-bobbing frenzy.
In reality, the idyllic suburb area of Ojuelegba which has inspired vintage hits by Afrobeat King Fela Kuti, and Wizkid, shares similar traits with popular districts, streets and areas in Lagos: pollution. The common sights of overfilled dumpsters commonly left in reckless abandon on road sides, toxic smoke emitting from overused old vehicles, and fumes from generator sets (which have been the saving grace for Nigerians in Nigeria lacking the basic supply of constant electrical power) and machineries, are ordinary sights on Nigerian streets.
These ordinary sights nonetheless, are extraordinary agents polluting the environment and resultantly causing residents environmental health-related hazards. Per a World Health Organization report, “An estimated 7 million people were killed by diseases related to indoor and outdoor air pollution alone in 2012.” In 2015, the Little Green Data Book 2015 indicated that 94% of the Nigerian population was exposed to air pollution levels (measured in PM2.5) exceeding WHO guidelines.
Lagos, to some, sparks the image of busy streets, fast money, and huge industries. But the reality is, this fast-growing city shelters some of the most dangerous pollutants in the country. The city’s over-populated numbers estimated at 21 million, irresponsible disposal of trash, and poor waste management systems are factors contributing to the ridiculously colossal air, land and water pollution in the state.
Being aware of these facts, the Directorial team of PhotoWaka Africa in deciding the theme for its fifth photo walk, unanimously voted in favour of Pollution. The central theme was then coined to be: “Pollution: African’s Untold Stories”. The aim was that for the first time, individual participants of the fifth photo walk could narrate both visually and in their words, their observations of pollution in the designated areas (Ojuelegba to Yaba).
On Saturday June 29, as the grey clouds gathered in the sky, participants of the photo walk gathered also, convening at Ojuelegba, where the fifth photo walk would kick off. By 9 am under the Ojuelegba Bridge, Eti-Inyene Godwin Akpan, Founder/Executive Director of PhotoWaka Africa had begun to sensitize participants, about a hundred and fifty of them on street photography.
Eti-Inyene had himself disclosed in interviews months earlier, the importance of understanding the little hacks to successfully thriving in street photography. Emphasizing the photo walk participants build interactions, relationships, seek permission and converse with subjects before attempting to have their photographs or that of their environment, Inyene had participants equipped for the photo walk.
Participants, now equipped with beginner level professional background in street photography, set to work in their allocated groups. The time was past 10 am: Grouping participants of the photo walk was a strategic team-bonding exercise to help individual participants bond and
represent their perspectives on pollution easily.
Testament to the photo walk’s magnetic energy, random individuals enthralled by the group’s photography activities on the streets leading to Yaba from Ojuelegba, stopped to inquire about PhotoWaka Africa and why participants were rummaging through the streets taking pictures of trash and litter.
While the photo walk of June 29 is flattering for PhotoWaka Africa’s image, the group above all hopes that the message of proper waste management, has been properly understood by participating creatives. And that next time, before these individuals discard waste, they can pause and ask themselves whether they are part of the reasons overfilled dumpsters on Nigerian streets are littered with non-degradable waste that will be around for thousands of years causing havoc on land, water, and air to both humans and creatures alike.
PhotoWaka Africa is a social enterprise focused on youth empowerment, creativity, job creation and creating a sustainable value chain in the photography and creative space