Yagazie Emezi


Cultural Anthropologist & Africanist

None of the images posted here belong to me unless stated otherwise.
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Valentine Special: That Thing Called Love

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have dug up an old post I wrote in 2011 right after I got out of my very first relationship. It was bitter-sweet to look back at this, but more sweet! I have definitely been blessed in my life despite all the ups and downs and I am so lucky to have experienced love like this. Hopefully, people can share their own stories with me. Here is the flashback (still written in present-tense):

“So some months ago, I got out of my first relationship of two and a half years. No, it was not an ugly break-up though our relationship did have some intensely ugly moments. We cried and kissed each other good bye. He simply moved to pursue his dreams and I stayed to complete my education and graduate from college. I fell of the last person I ever expected to fall for. But we understood each other. We had our own smiles and quotes. We acted like children that had their own secret friendship which no one else could be a part of. And we loved each other protectively and fiercely. The sacrifices we gave for one another can not be counted. But unfortunately, he had to move. I am not going to talk about our negatives, just know that they existed.

I gave him everything good I had in me and left myself with nothing. He threw his carefully guarded emotions at my feet and sacrificed so much for the both of us. We exhausted ourselves in our love. We became adults together but we needed to know what it was like to be adults apart. We are both experiencing this new found freedom so foreign independently. Of course we miss each other. We don’t say it because we do not need to. I never thought I would find a relationship like this. Yes, I was one of those girls who would spend long, lonely nights not wanting to be alone. Wanting to be held, yearning for those tender kisses and comforting arms. I got it all.”

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Traditional Nigerian occupations captured by documentary photographer Muyiwa Osifuye.

Cloth Weaving: Nigeria is famous for the numerous types of fabric which were traditionally woven by hand, but today modern technology has taken over. Fabrics include the famous “Aso oke”, traditionally worn by royalty but nowadays for special occasions, “Adire” or tie and dye and “Ankara” among the Yoruba and “George” among the Igbo. 

Pottery: Among the Yoruba, potters were traditionally women, but in the north they were men. Traditional pots were made for ritual purposes, water vessels and cooking.

Palm Wine Tapping: Wine tapping is another occupation from the past which still continues today. The female or red Abe (Oil palm tree) is used for palm kernels from which you get palm oil used in cooking, manufacture of margarine and soap. The sap of the male or white Abe is used to make Palm wine, which is a popular traditional beer all over West Africa. 

Wood Carving: Wood carvers traditionally built shrines which are used to worship traditional gods and lots of their work centered around masks and figures in this regard. However, they also make lots of figure ornaments and carvings of people and animals. 

Bronze and Metal Casting: Ife and Benin are famous all over the world for their bronze and metal carvings. Traditionally a lot of these elaborate masks and carvings were made to decorate the royal palaces, or for use in ceremonial occasions and traditional shrines. Sadly a lot of these national heirlooms are now housed in museums or private collections around the world.

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

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I came across Mambu Bayoh’s work in late 2010, drawn to the vibrant softness and hidden strength of the women captured by his camera. Bayoh is a Sierra Leone/Liberian photographer who came to the United States at a young age, escaping the Liberian civil war. Drawn to the art of photography, Bayoh stopped his pursuit in Law and dedicated his time to his now current passion. His work not only crosses over into high fashion and street fashion, but into social documentation as well. 

To view more of his images, view his TUMBLR, INSTAGRAM and official WEBSITE.

"My work is journalistic; I capture life as I know or see it. It is also laboring; it’s born out of love passion and inner struggle. I love to capture people. The collective strength of humans is beyond amazing and the determination of an individual is prolific. I’ve been blessed to be on earth for a little amount of its history but I just want to document what I see and hear. To show the human strength, defeat, determination, culture, and resilience.”

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

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Hello love, I am in LOVE with your pictures! Have you ever thought about making them into posters? I'd buy all of them lol.
yagazieemezi yagazieemezi Said:

*starts frantically printing* lol thank youuu


Oya: Rise of the Orishas, takes a pantheon of ancient West African deities, known as Orisha, and resurrects them as modern day superheroes in a new action packed film.

We focus on a young woman named Adesuwa who has the unique ability to transform into the fearsome warrior goddess, Oya, the Orisha of change. When she does, she gains amazing powers.

The filmmakers need funding to get it made. Go to their indiegogo page to find out more.

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Asker onyinyedraws Asks:
You this girl! You sabi inspire persin ooh! But seriously, you're such an inspiration, i'm so glad to have found you by chance a few weeks ago, you're really my kinda girl! Keep doing your thing, and thanks to you i'll keep doing mine. The recent launch of your website pushed me to really try and get something real doing,a children's book is coming out because of you! All the best ever,your total super fan Onyi ^_^
yagazieemezi yagazieemezi Said:

YES!!!! That’s lovely to hear, thank you so much! Always keep pushing, me love!

Yaga Life Facts:

Here are some of my personal cartoons accompanied by my little life facts of my feels.

  1. Look at yourself naked and know it could always be worse. Appreciate what you have.
  2. It’s perfectly normal to feel like you’re going to be alone FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Lol, hug your pillow.
  3. The days you feel most alone, reach out to someone you love…even if it’s your cat.
  4. Be okay with the downs of life. Like rain, they don’t last forever.

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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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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

Ever feel like you’re not doing enough? I’m dead tired, but I’m still debating if I should go to bed now or stay up working and replying emails for my site. A girl has a full-time day job and still tries to hit the gym after work before committing to my passions and work.

I’m tired. Physically exhausted which means my brain is tired as well. but if I want the future I imagine, shouldn’t I stay up and work for it? Shouldn’t I be losing sleep over this? Isn’t it how it’s done? With bags under eyes, burning that mid-night oil? But how can any good work be done when my head isn’t right? How can any of what I do now be enough if I go to bed early?

And how can i go to sleep when I’m going to feel guilty about it?


twenty four year old natasha lives with her two children on a small plot of land in rural burkina faso, which she uses to cultivate millet. a staple of their diet, the millet is not nutritionally dense, which leads to malnutrition, and often runs out before the next harvest. this forces natasha, with her youngest in tow, to scavenge for firewood and walk it to the nearest town a dozen miles away, where she then sells it and buys a little extra food and medicine.

although women in burkina faso provide more than half of the nation’s agricultural labour, they own less than a fifth of the land. women are viewed less as “owners of land” and more as “owners of crops”, and customary rural laws, which tend to trump any written legal protection, mean their land can be arbitrarily taken away. marriage offers some protection, but natasha has not heard from her husband since he left to find work in senegal over a year ago, and a dissolution of the marriage would mean certain land forfeiture.

despite women in the country being more productive with their land than men, they are further marginalized by banking restrictions; since women are not considered landowners, they are unable to provide the collateral needed to secure a loan, and are consequently forced to accept extremely high interest rates which further trap them in poverty.

these photos are from jessica dimmock’s “a mother’s devotion,” done in collaboration with médecins sans frontières for the documentary project, starved for attention, which attempts to reframe the issue of global malnutrition away from the cliched images of helpless victim.

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I’m so excited to announce the February launch of my new website: yagazieemezi.com

Dedicated to the cultural preservation of the African aesthetic, I am locating young photographers to provide a platform for showcasing their work and points of view of Africa. This is part of my effort to encourage the creative arts movement within Africa and the Diaspora. With my academic background in Cultural Anthropology & Africana Studies, I embarked on this journey not only curate our existing culture and the talent of our youth, but also encourage the necessity of cultural preservation among us all that goes beyond the mindset of documenting only past and traditional practices. Our culture is NOW. 

With contributing photographers based in Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, U.S and Germany and with varied backgrounds, yagazieemezi.com brings you documentation of their work and travels; in and out of Africa, interviews spotlighting African creatives, as well as features on art, fashion, and film. 

I am so pleased to be collaborating with such talented individuals for this new platform, and I can’t wait for you to see what we all are creating together.  www.yagazieemezi.com

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

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Nigerian photographer August Udoh captures the competitors of Dambe. Since the 1950s, Nigerian boxers have held their own in international boxing competition. Dambe is a Hausa martial sport that used to take place at the village level. Matches were held on festival occasions, and the art was the special province of members of the butchers’ guild. 

Dambe uses only one hand to strike, while the “weaker” hand is extended toward the opponent and used to ward off blows.  Dambe competitions are held between groups who meet in dueling pairs on a symbolic battlefield, and the metaphor of warfare is apparent in the continuing use of the term “killing” to signify the strike that leads to winning a match.

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

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Meet Your Photographer: Devesh Uba

Meet Your Photographer, a short series that will be introducing you to the contributing photographers of 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 Devesh Uba and I am a photography enthusiast from India who is in Lagos at the moment. I came here seven months back and before coming here I googled about Lagos and Nigeria. I am afraid that I didn’t find a lot of positive stories and pictures in search results at that time! 

Once I reached here and started to move around Lagos, I realized there are lot of positives which everyone conveniently ignores. I thought it will be great to capture all of this and showcase it online. 

Almost all my pictures of Nigeria have been taken from a moving car due to safety reasons, with a 35mm lens. But yet, I have never been the photographer who will be disconnected with his subjects. I learnt the hard way that I can’t always do it here, so I am a mix of both. I do hostile/risky areas from car and make intimate portraits whenever I have the opportunity. I think it will be an accomplishment of just my gear and not my eye if I am seen only as a car-photographer.

Read more on Devesh + Images

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

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Doctor Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning speculative fiction writer of Nigerian descent. Her first book Zahrah, The Windseeker won the Wole Soyinka Prize of Literature in Africa. As a creator, Okorafor has worked in a great deal of media including film, comics, illustrated books, and of course, the novel. She has an innate intuition about the images that accompany her powerful and imaginative words. She is adamant about the story the cover conveys and it’s associated message.

Who Fears Death, her first adult-oriented novel, set in post-apocalyptic sub-Saharan Africa details the adventures of a very powerful female sorcerer and her attempts to deal with the abilities with which she is born. The amazing text also uses speculative fiction to bring up conversations around access and technology, female genital mutilation, and the horrors of using child-soldiers for war. It is a compelling story and in 2011 it made Nnedi Okorafor the first person of color to win the coveted World Fantasy Award.

As a professor of design, I am always creating assignments that deal with taking complex ideas and distilling them into one image. The American cover for Who Fears Death (left) is, at the risk of enraging my colleague, adequate for the book but I have never found that it totally captured the essence of the story. The French adaptation’s cover (right) with it’s nuanced illustration; heavily relying upon the Rorshach-like affordances of a black and white multi-stable image, seems to give much more in depth narrative information about the tensions and challenges in the book. I love this rendition and I think that the more simple American version lacks the power of the connotations that the illustrated French cover delivers.

Regardless, of the cover, I’d highly recommend picking up Okorafor’s insightful and inspiring novels. Her current book is a collection of short stories entitled Kabu-Kabu. - John Jennings

Narrate Africa will be reading Who Fears Death this Season ! 

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Meet Your Photographer, a short series that will be introducing you to the contributing photographers of 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 Ofoe Amegavie, I am 26 years of age and a photographer from Ghana.

I got into photography about 3 years ago. It started as a means to distract myself from school and the stress it came with as I wasn’t doing a course art related,but rather, pursuing a degree in Port and Shipping Administration. After school, I picked it up as a full time occupation and so started my story.

My work is not boxed up. I shoot based on how I  feel at that moment, what I see or what I am being paid to shoot. I tend to shoot a series with a running theme when doing my own projects. I like the vintage, textured feel to my photos and I am biased to shoot people with natural hair who I see as very fresh and cool. I just run wild with my imagination and my feelings and find the best way to express it through my photos. I like black and white photos very much because I find color to be a bit of a distraction sometimes. 

Read more about his work

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic