Nneka Iwunna Ezemezue
NIGERIA
Nneka Iwunna Ezemezue is a Nigerian photographer and visual story teller living and working in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied at Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) Lagos, Nigeria, majoring in Graphic Design during which she participated in a Photography Exchange program between École Nationale Supérieure Des Beaux Arts Paris and YABATECH Lagos (2008). In 2012, she participating in ‘Crossing Compasses’ a Photo Exchange between Neue Schule für Fotografie Berlin and YABATECH Lagos. Her work explores themes relating to women, environment, gender, religion, tradition and socio-political issues. Her images can be seen in Dienacht magazine and Journ Africa. Her works have been exhibited at the Crossing Compasses, David Dale Gallery, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Scotland (TNI.ACP), Goethe Institute Cultural Heritage Photography Master class, Nlele Institute Lagos Open Range and LagosPhoto Canon Photo storytelling. Nneka is a 2017 Magnum Foundation Fund grantee. She is currently working on her ongoing project titled Left Behind.
Left Behind
The subjugation of women is deeply rooted in the culture and tradition of the Nigerian society emanating from the inferior status ascribed to women. They are regarded as objects of rights, rather than subjects of rights. They are considered their husband’s property and compelled by cultural practices to be and remain subservient to him during his lifetime, death and thereafter. Left Behind is an ongoing project that examines the plight of widows in Nigeria. Widows who have endured extreme inhuman practices of burial rites imposed on them at the demise of their husbands. Becoming a widow does not just mean the loss of a husband, but often it means the loss of everything else as well. Despite the trauma of losing their husbands, they are robbed of their status and consigned to the very margins of the society where they suffer extreme forms of pain, grief, depression, discrimination and deprivation. In some communities, widowhood represents a “social death” for women. A widow is subjected to perform different mourning rituals such as; sitting unclad on a floor for a period of time without a bath, drinking the bathwater of the corpse, shaving her hair completely, crying or screaming aloud, prevented from seeing the corpse of her husband, etc. The purported reasons given for this inhuman treatments are to prove innocence of the widow, respect the dead, facilitate the movement of the husband’s spirit to the spirit world and thereby protect the living from the dead. She is circumvented like death. The general message is simple – she killed him. It is conveyed spoken and unspoken. My mother was a victim. Nobody accuses the man when his wife dies, even if the woman died as a result of domestic violence by the man. These prejudiced cultural practices are entrenched, dominantly accepted and practiced in the South Eastern part of Nigeria under the guise of tradition. They are ancient practices enforced by the men and implemented by the women known as ‘Umuada’ (the first daughters of the town). Many communities have abolished the inhuman practices, but others are obstinate because they claim it is tradition. This project supported by Magnum Foundation Fund, focuses on addressing the grossly inhuman, immoral practices and social injustice meted out on widows whose lives are determined by local, patriarchal interpretations of tradition, custom, and religion because they are not protected by the law.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.