I like different. Not the same as last week or last year, but something different and honestly, pictures have the capacity to do just that, evoke a feeling of difference, whether good or bad. I’m not one to comment on directions or inspirations for photo shoot, but I will praise and applaud people when they take risk to portray a different kind of image for African culture. So over the weekend, This Day Style released some pictures which they described as their Heritage Shoot where we get a chance to celebrate the beauty of Nigeria cultures. Of course, I love the concept as they choose my Delta heritage to celebrate. I applaud them for their difference, for setting themselves apart from the rest by depicting an image of 2 Nigerian celebrities wearing our traditional pieces and of course our rich red coral beads.
The photography was by Ade Asiko and the styling by Kessina Thorley who by the way is the twin sister of the female celebrity in the images Eku Edewor. I share this background for a reason, because 2 particular images (below) have gone viral with people questioning whether they are truly images of African Fashion or Modern Day Slavery.
Again, I applaud difference, but I also question motive, intent, elitism or their idea of privilege. For starters, why the younger dark skin, barefoot attendants? Their response (Eku’s in particular below).
Some may argue and they have “There is no where a new bride is escorted in this way. If a new bride is to be escorted, she is usually accompanied by women not boys clad in wrappers or barefoot.” Anyways, being the researcher that I am, I decided to search the internet understand why people may be offended with these images and honestly and I recommend that you visit here. If you do the homework, you will also get why people are offended. The images are different and I applaud Kessina for being different, but Ade and Kessina should have done their research as the image above with Eku and the children depicts a disturbing image of enslavement, where it seems these children (which by the way do not remotely resemble relatives, let’s be honest), are being forced into labor out of their will. Based on my research “the image seems to depict an upper class woman being transported by child slaves, each dressed in wrappers but barefoot; they follow the woman, dressed in the same colors and whose feet we cannot see given the length of her dress. In those days, the woman is often wearing shoes. Anyways, the matching colors of the clothing indicate they all belong to the owner of the property, the upper class woman.” I might be wrong, but doesn’t the image below look eerily similar…
I concur with others that, while the images of the 2 celebrities by themselves in our African attire are regal and beautiful with those gorgeous red coral beads, the ones with Eku and the children is part of our culture and history we should keep in the past and the history books and never choose to recreate ever again. This is pushing no boundaries, no celebration of heritage, nothing different here, except a depiction of modern day slavery.
With all my love,