A Photography Revolution in Bariga

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A view of the Seaside Cottage Theatre

A new movement for photography will take Bariga and the whole Lagos by storm in October, writes Yinka Olatunbosun

The boats cruised across the UNILAG waterfront in Yaba as some Bariga creatives enjoyed last Saturday in the breezy side of the community. Just by the lagoon sits the cottage theatre which houses the Footprints of David Art Academy is almost masked by the growing grasses along the flood-prone Community road. For Seun Awobajo, the founder of the academy, this community had been portrayed in the media negatively for too long.

In order to change the narratives, a massive photography exhibition by the youths of Bariga is set to show the diverse talents behind the cameras. Called the ‘Bariga Photo Festival’, the exhibition is the climax event for the eight-month long photography workshop. Born and raised in Bariga, Awobajo is one of the few socially committed artists from Bariga town that boasts of music greats such as King Sunny Ade, Queen Salawa, 9ice, Olamide, Cabasa, Ajasa, Tony Tertuilla and actor-director, Segun Adefila amongst others.

“The festival is a maiden edition in partnership with Canon. Since February, we started the Bariga Photo School where we train youths on the art and act of photography. And we train 20 adults and 20 children every month on the art of photography for free. We are going to continue this training till October where we are going to have an exhibition in celebration of Bariga Photo Festival. Canon sent in a team of six to train the young ones on the different genres of photography,” he explained during a recent press briefing.

The exhibition will hold on October 24 in Bariga at the community which is arguably one with a very highconcentration of theatre art practitioners in Africa.

“Three out of five streets in Bariga has a cultural troupe,” Awobajo claimed. Since 2005, he had been picking children off the streets to enrol for free literacy classes and take part in creative development programmes. Many of the children go fishing for a living. They are unable to access good roads and when it rains, it is a common sensical choice to sit at home to avoid the floods as well as the pitfalls of open manholes.

“Today, we now have this space which serves multiple functions. It is a free school for over 207 children with 16 staff teachers. In the evening, we use the building for theatre performances and we also train children,” he revealed.

The photo festival targets 600 youths and the best of which will showcase their works at the exhibition. These works will be installed in major spots in Bariga and other parts of Lagos.

“We also extend adult edition classes to parents”, he continued. “We have a compulsory monthly PTA meeting which may also feature seminar or training. We partner with some lecturers in University of Lagos to hold some of these classes. It is a big movement and we try to solve problems. Every Saturday, there is a mandatory session for mothers and we call it, “The Gbe bodi e team” where we do aerobics for a minimum of 30mins.”