Intrepid Voices and Reflections From Murky Rivers with Uche Okpa-Iroha and Charles Okereke
23 – 26 November 2020
Protests have been known for centuries to be very potent and useful tools used by the people (the masses, the ruled or the governed) to make demands for change from governments and to put organized societies in check. From ancient history to date, protests can be linked to the concept of democracy – as the beacon and most fundamental principle of freedom and free speech.
Mass action and collectiveness of thoughts, will power and resolve in the demand for human rights of citizens have changed and impacted countries and nations positively all over the world. Mass protests have instigated revolutions, brought down dictatorial and tyrannical regimes, and challenged parochial ideologies.
On record, the “Arab Spring” uprisings in North Africa were attributed to the tyrannical and oppressive governments as was in the ancient times. People have thronged the streets of cities to demand for their basic rights for justice and good governance for many centuries and it has not stopped. The Sudanese protest led to a revolution for power shift recently in 2019. This mass uprising by the Sudanese people led to the ousting of Omar Al Bashir after a thirty year dictatorial rule.
However, protests also focus on cause-led demands and other aspects in the polity that affect the people with regards to politics, economy, religion and culture.
On the other hand, the Nigerian situation is also as troubling as the American quagmire. Countless numbers of innocent young Nigerians have been killed or murdered by the police without official government accountability or reprimand. Police brutality and unlawful killing of Nigerian citizens over the years have attracted outcry from organized local civil groups and international organizations like the Amnesty International. Yet, no comprehensive or tangible action have been taken by constituted authorities in Nigeria. Hence, protests in Nigeria have triggered a worldwide reaction and condemnation with slogans (#blacklivesmatter) and #endsars. With the active role of the social media and the involvement of photography, the message has reverberated effectively among world leaders, celebrities and human rights activists.
Photographers have embedded themselves – risking their lives – in the frontlines as they capture captivating and thought provoking images that will remain relevant in conversations in the political, social and academic milieu for many years. These visual documents, interestingly, have been captured mostly by young and daring photographers who also, with their contemporaries from around the world, seek change in their countries and in the societies they live in. This generation of Nigerian photographers will remain one of the most vocal group of visual activists in recent times.