Yagazie Emezi


Cultural Anthropologist & Africanist

None of the images posted here belong to me unless stated otherwise.

J.D. Okhai Ojeikere (1930-2014): In Memoriam

Press Release

With gratitude to God, we announce the passing away of our father, and an icon of photography, Pa J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere. He died in the afternoon of 2nd February after a brief illness. He was 83 years old. Burial announcements will be announced later. 

Ehiz’ Ojeikere, for the family. 

Known for his stunning documentation of hairstyles and sculptures, J.D. Okhai Ojeikere was a Nigerian photographer who began his career in 1954 as a darkroom assistant at the Ministry of Information, Ibadan. He was born in 1930 and bought his first camera in 1950, a Brownie D.

A year after Nigeria gained independence, he began working at Television House Ibadan as a studio photographer under Steve Rhodes. He joined the Nigerian Arts Council in 1967, and  1968 saw the start of his  documentation of Nigerian hairstyles, a project that would become his trademark. However, his first solo exhibition wasn’t till 1995, when his work showed in Nigeria and was also shown outside the country for the first time, as part of an exhibition in Switzerland.

“You know, nature gives every human being a role to play in life. It happened to be that by nature, I am created to be a photographer. And being a photographer does not mean that I have to cover all aspects of photography. I am not a war photographer, I am a civil photographer. And I have an urge to document culture, not wars and civil strife.” 


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Be Inspired: Kechi Okwuchi

I remember the Sosoliso plane crash. I had only been in the United States for a few months and I remember my extreme devastation on receiving news of the plane crash that took 109 lives from us. 60 of them had been students from Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja and out of the 60, Kechi Okwuchi was the only survivor. With burns covering 60% of her body and over 75 surgeries later, Kechi’s story is one of perseverance and determination. I was lucky enough to carry out a phone interview with her. I remember Kechi’s voice for the first time. It was strong, deep and with a certain sweetness to it. I interviewed Kechi in 2011 on my first blog, but her story is worth telling again.

YTell me about the actual crash, if you may.

Kechi: The pilot announced that we were going to land in the airport in about 20 minutes and the plane started descending. I was in an aisle seat which is really unusual for me because I like the window so I couldn’t really see what was going on outside. Suddenly everything seemed different. We were going down way too fast. Someone in the back was shouting. It was a woman’s voice, “Is this plane trying to land?” When she said that, everyone started panicking. I looked to the side to my friend and she was looking really scared and I was probably looking just as scared.  So we held hands and tried to pray, but before we could even start to say, “In Jesus’ name”, there was this really loud, searing sound right in my ear and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital.

YUnderstand that you don’t have to answer any of my questions, but how did you deal with the loss of your friends and the other people you knew on the plane?

Kechi: Well at that point when I woke up in the hospital, I automatically assumed that since I was alive, everyone else was alive too. I was told by the psychiatrist in the hospital 4 months later that I was the only survivor of all the students and only one of two survivors of the entire flight. I cried a whole lot. I was devastated. The first person I could think of was my friend Toke Bagru, the girl that was sitting beside me because she was my closest friend. She was the first person I thought of because she had been the last face I had seen before the crash. My mother was there with me the whole time, she’s my rock. She let me cry everything out. I still cry, but I don’t like the idea of being constantly sad about it. If I stay sad and constantly depressed, it’s an insult to their memory. I want to live my life to the fullest, not just for myself, but for them too. 

Read full interview

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A typical Igbo traditional wedding has two different ceremonies: 

The first one is called the ‘Iku Aka’ or ‘Knocking on the door’ where the groom and members of his family (uncles and brothers) come to tell the family of the bride of his intention to marry their daughter. The mother and father of the bride each get a keg of palmwine (ngwo) and one or more for the father’s Umunna (brothers, cousins, etc)

The second ceremony, referred to as the ‘Igba Nkwu Nwanyi/izu okwu’ (wine carrying ceremony) is the actual wedding. The groom is supposed to assist his in-laws-to-be with the planning of this ceremony so he can provide Assorted drinks, a cow, bags of rice and ingredients for cooking.

When they arrive, the groom and few family members join the father of the bride in private and discuss the ‘ima ego’ or dowry. Once this is done and accepted, the bride dances out for the first time. Accompanied by her friends  in her native attire of 2 separate pieces of George wrapper (one for her waist and the other for her bust) she goes to greet her mother’s people and goes back inside. Her second outfit is white blouse and George or damask or brocade which she uses to greet her father’s people and she goes back inside. The third outing is usually in material similar to the grooms, this time, she is handed a cup of wine and told to find her husband and give it to him to drink. When she finds him, she kneels to give him the horn and waits for him to finish. Sometimes, the groom might lift his bride up and give the rest of the wine. This usually indicates he understands she is his help mate and is accompanied by much cheering. The couple then kneel before the parents for prayers and blessings. Then the party really begins.

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Emmanual Afolabi: The Journey

New work by contributing photographer Emmanuel Afolabi for yagazieemezi.com

"I caught up with Eli Fola, Nigerian born saxophonist and lead singer of NYC’s based world music band known as Dahka Band,  a multi-cultural world band with members  from Algeria, Turkey, Ecuador, and The Philippines. Eli Fola was introduced to music at the age of 9, heavily influenced by the church his parents were a part of in Nigeria. It was there that he joined the choir and there he started learning to play different musical instruments like African drums, congas, piano, and eventually settling with the saxophone."

Keep reading + more pictures

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Get To Know: Artist André Hora

André Hora is a Brazilian/British artist and freelance illustrator whom I met in a chilly New York last year. At that time, we found ourselves in the company of Artist Tim Okamura during a personal interview regarding his popular paintings. On the rooftop of Tim’s art studio, André and I looked over at the city of Manhattan splayed out in front of us and it was there I learnt about his art. We discussed his different influences within the art world and I was so fascinated by his work that I later had to contact him for an interview.

Y: Can you tell us a little bit about your art? Some of your pieces have a distinct African flare to them. With the several cultural and identity labels within Brazil, have any of them affected you as an artist and in what ways?

André: I would define my art as narrative, especially the late works, almost all of which are telling a story, a myth or describing a day-to-day situation. On my early works we see a lot of faces and skulls – I was obsessed by the human head!  I didn’t attend a formal art school, although I learnt to draw at a very early age with my Dad (who is an architect), and since then I have attended several private lessons and workshops in Brazil, France and in the UK where I am based. I am drawn to Afro-Brazilian culture and particularly to Yoruba mythology as we find in Candomblé (a mixture of traditional Yoruba, Fon, Ewe and Bantu beliefs).  Not only because I come from Bahia, but because my great-great-grandmother was a slave. I was always fascinated by this ancestor of mine I knew so little about. So from my Portuguese, Native American and African origins, I find myself very influenced on my art by the latter – both aesthetically and philosophically.

(read more of the interview)

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With my cartoons, I draw directly from my personal life. From battling with boyfriends over having my hair in their faces, to being the creepy big spoon and watching them sleep, to the single life struggle of loneliness and horniness, I simply apply my pen to paper to share with others what I thought at first were my experiences alone. I’m just happy that some of my little life facts are relatable to others. - Yagazie

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bad hair day fix

Art by: Yagazie Emezi





Describing a few situations I’ve found myself in due to high levels of thirst. Learn from me!!! Needless to say, I’ve made a few mistakes and poor decisions in the past!


Literally one of the funniest ladies on Youtube. And when she jumps into her American accent to pronounce “thirst” cracks me UP!

I miss my cat. Flashback to when I was down in the dumps and she tried to cheer me up.


For Every F*cking Occasion (FEFO) by Yagazie Emezi is a collection of greeting cards and postcards targeted at the unconventional card giver. Each design is hand drawn and based off Yagazie’s popular personal cartoons. 

So if you’re looking for cards that say everything you didn’t know you always wanted to say and now you want to say them, they’re here.

Omg want lol

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Today marks the start of Meet Your Photographer, a short series that will be introducing you to the contributing photographers of www.yagazieemezi.com over the next couple of weeks. You will be seeing their work on here fairly often so this is an excellent way for you to get familiar with these talented folks. 

My name is Fundiswa Ntoyi and I am a 22 year old South African-based creative with a passion for making beautiful portraits. I not only try to focus on the beauty of the people in my pictures but also to capture their souls; be it happiness, sadness, fear, confidence, and so on. Whatever emotion I can get out of someone, I want it to show in my work. 

Read more on what Fundiswa Ntoyi has to say…

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Bin-Bin Series (2008) by Angèle Etoundi Essamba






Lagos Night

Briefly recapping my night out in Lagos, Nigeria and watching the interaction between a Nigerian prostitute and a foreigner. It’s not an uncommon sight, but I suppose having interacted with the man first hand (he works for my friend’s father) and him revealing his viewpoint as a white man clearly still feeling superior in a black man’s land; it was just left a very bitter taste in my mouth to watch this beautiful, young black woman be handled by him….

Similarly in the Port Harcourt area where there are a lot of oil refineries and where there are white expat enclaves, this is standard. Many young girls are sadly trying to land a rich white man so they can be taken care of. There are also some who become housegirls, cooks or cleaners for them, but there is a sexual arrangement in exchange for providing them with employment, food and shelter. It’s desperation and crippling poverty. School fees are expensive, and you know in Nigeria, some parents can’t afford to send all their children to school, so it’s usually the oldest who gets an education. If it’s between a boy and a girl, then the boy will be the one sent to school. With the girl, they figure she will find someone to marry her.

It’s a double whammy really. The multinationals these white expats work for like Shell, Chevron, Agip etc have destroyed the Niger Delta with oil exploration. The way many supported and sustained themselves is gone because of pollution. People are desperate, and desperate people will do anything. So after the employers of these expats have decimated these places after decades of exploitation, they now come for cheap sex. No matter what the sex workers are getting paid in Naira, it is cheap when compared to the Euros and Dollars expat workers get paid in. The rate for sex is always affordable for a white expat. This is why they are there.

Most of these girls start out young. Some places are worse than others. I’m sure you know that Calabar is pretty popular with white tourists. They love talking about the scenery, the culture and beaches. The new thing is the Calabar Carnival. Yes, that’s it, old white men are coming to Nigeria for Carnival. I hope no one believes that. If anyone believes old white men are flocking to Calabar for beaches, resorts, nature’s wonders and to take in the culture, then I don’t know what to tell you. Many are there for young girls. If they are sent there for employment, then the cheap sex is a bonus. It’s a well known thing that people don’t like to discuss openly, in part because many parents are complicit. Some sex workers got their start by being coerced by their parents and guardians, but again, it’s a thing that is taboo to discuss. They will deny it, and Nigerians don’t openly like to discuss anything relating to sex. Here Nigeria is, the largest black population in the world, but they like to pretend that sex isn’t happening. Everyone is “pious” and “moral”. In Nigeria, they knack like rabbits, but it’s always in secret.

A lot of press has been given to places like Thailand and the Philippines with regards to sex tourism in the last decade. African countries are slowly becoming a destination for many Europeans because of the lack of scrutiny and the way people turn a blind eye. These white guys are pretty open and brazen about it because Nigerians treat oyinbo people with respect, and are generally deferential towards foreigners because of their economic situation. In turn, these expats have free reign to run wild and do whatever they like, and they are doing just that.

There was a friend of mine who got in trouble with the police after he intervened in the kind of situation Yagazie talks about. Basically a white man maltreating a Nigerian sex worker at a night club trying to push her into his car, my friend, who is just that kind of person, went off on the man. In the end the police got involved telling him to leave the white man alone as if he was the victim.

Nigerians can really be complicit when it comes to the all wise and powerful oyinbo. It’s ridiculous and needs to stop already. White men have been taking advantage of Nigerian women for centuries.

My first ever encounter with white expats in Lagos was something similar. My family (both sides) are poor and from the countryside, so with the exception of those few who live in the north, the handful who’ve since migrated to the other cities, and the tiny branch who stayed in the diocese after the war forced my mother’s family to flee to Okigwe, there was never much cause to venture to the urban areas of the country. This was just after my grandmother fell seriously ill, just months before we left for London, and my first time back in Nigeria since I was five (we’d been living in Morocco), so I couldn’t have been older than about fourteen.

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your voice reminds me of home, its so great and you are beautiful.
yagazieemezi yagazieemezi Said:

*big grin*

Thank you, babers. Blessings.