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Seeing Lagos, Nigeria, Through New Eyes with @temi.coker

For more of Temi’s photos from Nigeria, browse his #temixnigeria hashtag. To continue along with Temi’s work in Texas, follow @temi.coker on Instagram.

When Temi Coker (@temi.coker) was 11 years old, he left his home in Lagos, Nigeria, for Arlington, Texas. Then, a few years ago during college, Temi developed a passion for photography and began searching for a way to bring his culture and art together.

Last December, opportunity struck. His grandmother was about to turn 70, and the family in Nigeria had some portraits commissioned to commemorate the moment. But when the photos didn’t meet Temi’s expectations, he made up his mind: He would return to Nigeria and take them himself.

Back in Nigeria, Temi began to see Lagos differently as he looked around through his camera’s lens. “For me growing up, when I moved to America everybody was making fun of Africa,” he explains. “I said, ‘Ok, well, my job here today is to go find the beauty in Nigeria and to allow people to see a different side than what they see on TV.’”

As he revisited the beaches, city streets and markets of his childhood, he was struck by the beauty he saw not only in the surroundings, but also in the people. From women selling crops to suya sellers to police officers directing traffic on their days off to fishermen cleaning out their canoes in the morning, he found inspiration in the working world of Lagos that he’d never noticed as a child — and he shared it with the #temixnigeria hashtag. “I just wanted to show people what it’s like to actually go to a place where you were born, now with a new vision, and capture the essence of that. Not to make the story about me, but about Nigeria and how beautiful it actually is.”

With a renewed sense of confidence as a photographer, Temi returned to Texas where he’s begun to take on professional work and develop many personal projects, including multiple-exposure manipulations and a storytelling series that shows the Nigerian traditions alive in the US.

LADI EMERUWA'S DIARY

A diary extract from Ladi Emeruwa, our Hamlet on performing in his home town of Lagos, Nigeria.

4 March 2015 – Lagos, Nigeria

The full gambit of the emotional spectrum. That’s pretty much how I would describe coming home to Lagos to perform. On the one handthere was the desire to show people who had known me my whole life that I wasactually good at the crazy thing I had decided to do for a living and that that crazy thing is worthwhile! On the other hand, because by this point we had already been doing the show for nearly a year I felt fairly confident in being able to deliver at least a reasonably competent performance… 

It was really amazing because we had done a few schools matinees before and normally the kids are VERY loud, but these kids were really well behaved. Almost too well behaved! And when I went out in the preshow to talk to them they couldn’t believe it when I said I was from Nigeria. It really made my day that they were as happy for me to be there as I was for them and at the end of the show they leapt out of their seats as well which was something I just wasn’t expecting. The evening show was hard, I’d given so much in the first show because I had wanted the kids to enjoy it that by the time it was over I was absolutely shattered. When it was time to come back on for the preshow of the evening show though I was totally revitalised by the wall of noise that erupted from (probably) my entire family and friends when I walked on stage. Looking up at their beaming faces and frantically waving hands I couldn’t disappoint them. At the end of the show they leapt to their feet and it was like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders

— Ladi        

Things to do in Lagos

“Centre of Excellence”

1. Visit Tarkwa Bay

2. Watch a play at the Muson Centre

3. Experience wildlife and biodiversity at the Lekki Conservation Centre

4. Visit Freedom Park

5. Experience the Lagos Carnival

6. Visit Iga Idunganran (the official residence of the Oba of Lagos) 

7. Ride a horse at Bar Beach

8. Experience the Eyo Festival

9. Visit the Point of no Return, Badagry

10. Eat Yoruba delicacies at a local buka.

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I decided to answer a few of the questions that I’ve been getting from a few people online. Some folks know that I’m not from Lagos and that Aba is the only Nigeria I’ve ever known so there was a general curiosity over why I chose leave the ‘comforts’ of the States and move to a completely new and different place. 

Of course, I couldn’t answer ALL questions, but I hope this gives a bit of insight!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Fleeing Boko Haram: Inside Survivor Camps in Lagos

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FOR THE LOVE OF…

FROM LAGOS WITH LOVE!

Food is nourishment and “From lagos with love” takes us through some simple staple meals Lagosians/Nigerians enjoy. From pasta dishes and rice dishes, to mouthwatering chicken options, this cook presents to you meals that “taste like lagos”. 

For a direct link to many more mouth watering dishes, please visit https://instagram.com/fromlagoswithlove/

Instagram: Fromlagoswithlove

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HAPPY #BLACKOUT

"The way grandmother dances when you return. She begins to smile, she sees it really is you, she screams! She hugs you for a long time and you smell home. She begins to dance. She starts calling the names of your ancestors. She adjusts her wrapper. Left leg, right leg, she dances without losing her smile. Black Queen in motion. You try not to cry. She hugs you again, welcoming you home again. Grandmother does not say “i love you” because that has no translation for their kind of love. Other grandmothers join her. They place you in the middle, make a circle around you and keep calling on all the ancestors to help welcome you home. You cannot replicate this sort of sweetness. The English language will never describe this sort of love. The earth is their drum and their love is beautiful music. Their dance is a beautiful reminder of the rhythm living in the fabric of your origins."

- hometown

- Ijeoma Umebinyuo

In 2011, I put out an open invitation, on Facebook, to my American friends to go with me to Nigeria to visit, in general, and to attend my mom’s 60th birthday party. Few of my friends (and 1 of their moms and her best friend) took my invitation seriously and answered to the invitation. 

Here are some of the photos shot by my cousin, Paul, and I. It was an honor and privilege having them over. It was their first time visiting an African country and I believe few of them have been back on their own since then. I remember my mom saying, “O se je obinrin nikan lo te le e wa? (How come only ladies came with you?).” I told her, “Hey, it was an open invitation to over a 1000 friends on Facebook. They were the ones who chose to come out.” :) As the host, it was hectic for me to look out for them the entire time but I definitely look forward to doing it again…when I become rich. :) Thankful to my family and friends back home who made them feel welcome. Great times! Missing my family for sure.

Today’s Tumblr Blackout made me reminisce on this and decide to dig into my archives to edit a few of the photos. Next month, I think I will work on taking time out from editing work photos to editing more of the pictures from this trip.

Location: Eko, otherwise called Lagos, Nigeria.