Thursday 26 April 2012

Palm oil processing… hygiene concern over local method

A recent visit of OYASAF documentary crew to Bacita, Kwara and Jebba, Kogi States exposed local methods of palm oil processing, which could be controversial.

Palm oil is probably the richest edible oil from Africa. Oil from palm fruit is commonly used as ingredient in preparing many traditional African foods. It also has a uniquely lovely strong flavor.

An orange to red vegetable oil with a distinctively delicious flavor made from the juicy pulp of the African palm tree fruit called Elaeis guineensis, palm oil is used across tropical Africa, especially, West Africa. It is also used in the Caribbean, and South America in making various dishes.
In Bacita, Kwara State ladies like this young one deep their body in the palm oil pool during the processing.  PHOTO: BY OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER, OGUNTIMEHIN ARIYO
The fruit is no larger than grape fruits, but has a central nut, the palm kernel (which is also used in making palm kernel oil) enclosed by the soft juicy pulp (from which the red oil is made).

However, these photos, taken during the processing of palm oil expose the unhygienic food method, which may help to spread disease. We need to therefore improve this process for our own good.

Despite this worrisome method in palm oil processing, of note is the people’s prowess in farming and blacksmith work.

Thursday 12 April 2012

In Lagos, Int’t Photography Show, Cultural display, Carnival Herald Black Heritage Festival

When Lagos hosted Italian photographers, American scholars and had a colouful cultural / carnival display at the 2012 Lagos Black Heritage Festival (LBHF) tagged The Black in the Mediterranean Blues, OYASAF's documentary team was there and brings the event in pictures.

The weeklong 2012 LBHF took off on a colourful start, on April 2, 2012 as the State Governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), formally opened the new Kongi's Harvest Art Gallery, at the Freedom Park on Broad Street, Lagos Island. Fashola described the event as a festival of color which promotes the culture of the people of Lagos with a proud heritage. It took off amid cultural displays and performances by Igunnuko (Yoruba) and Ekpe (South South) masquerades as well as Agere performers and Gelede dancers of Yoruba origin.     
Egungun masquerade during the Lagos Black Heritage Festival 2012.PHOTO: BY OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER, OGUNTIMEHIN ARIYO
  Works of Nigerian and Italian photographers were on display in the exhibition titled Naija-Italia, mounted at the top floor of the Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery. Some of the works from the photography exhibition were also mounted at Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos. To enrich the event, poetry reading and colloquium, involving Nigerian, Italian, American poets and scholars were held during the weeklong event.

  Participating states across Nigeria which sent delegates and representatives to the event were acknowledge during the festival.

 More prominent were masquerades and troupes from Lagos and other South West states of Osun, Ogun, Oyo and Ekiti as they had a ball entertaining the crowd while children were also not exempted.
The carnival aspect of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival 2012. PHOTO: BY OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER, OGUNTIMEHIN ARIYO
  The popular performing group, Crown Troupe of Africa confirmed their reputation as an emergent cultural group as its children’s arm known as Footprints of David gave inspiring performance.
The 2012 Lagos Black Heritage Festival which ended with Lagos Carnival at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) was not bereft of entertainment as local stars such as Whizkid and Eldee performed to the people’s delight.

The Freedom Park, Lagos Island, which has been hosting the LBHF and other events, in the last few years was a prison yard where nationalists including Herbert Macaulay and the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo were inmates. It was converted to park by the Lagos State Government three years ago and named Freedom Park, as tribute to everyone who cherishes the sanctity of democracy.  

Thursday 5 April 2012

Makoko, mini ECOWAS in Lagos…and a reluctant tour haven

One of the challenges of government in suburban redevelopment is Makoko, in Lagos State. Although artists, over the decades, have documented Makoko in painting, sculpture and other medium, but a recent visit of OYASAF’s documentary team to this Lagos mainland suburb affords an opportunity to take another look at a community reported to have resisted several development attempts by the Lagos State government.

Observers and urban planners note that given its waterside proximity, a tour haven is possible if properly developed.

Makoko, a suburb in Lagos mainland, is populated mainly by low income earners and sparsely educated people of Lagos State. The people live in wood-cladded huts built on stilts foundation on the lagoon, with grime squalor and just above subsistence without basic social amenities.

As one leaves Nigeria’s major Central Business District of Lagos Island and descends the Third Mainland Bridge (longest bridge in Sub-Saharan Africa), en route Yaba, these clusters of huts are seen forming man-made islands of abode on the surface of the water.

Aside the fact that Makoko people are just a bridge away from the nation’s commercial nerve centre, there is also an adjoining middle class and high end income estate to the community, whose enabling facilities are not shared with the poor people of Makoko.

And quite strange in an Anglo-Phone Nigeria, the people of Makoko – estimated at 50, 000 in population – speak French as the “official” language.  Reason: many nationalities who have found home in this community are not only Nigerians, but a conglomerate of harmonious cultures and blend of people from countries along the West African coastline. Most of the occupants of the community found their way to Makoko through the sea, while their Nigerian counterparts are mostly of waterside communities who have longer history of settlement in this part of the country.

Native method of processing sea food by Makoko community. PHOTO: BY OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER, OGUNTIMEHIN ARIYO
These Nigerians mix with other nationals such as Togolese, Cameroonians, Ghanaians and Gabonese. However, there is an ethnic connection among these people and their Nigerian hosts: the vast majority of these non-Nigerian residents are of the Egun fishing community, of “Tofi” in Benin Republic. In Lagos, the former slave route town of Badagry, whose people are predominantly Egun, shares border with Republic of Benin. Some border towns of Republic of Benin are also of Egun-speaking people.

  Other major Nigerian ethnic groups in Makoko are the Ilaje (south west), Ijaw fishermen (south south) as well as the Igbo (south east), whose major occupation is trading.

The main occupation of the residents of Makoko is fishing. They have established virtual routes on the lagoon and given these routes different names, such as can be found in the Niger Delta creeks. They relate and visit their friends and neighbours in the community using canoes. For those living in opposite abodes to each other, they use infant constructed plank-bridges, which usually  give way without notice but for which little or no harm usually occurs  because of their swiftness and dexterity on water.
However, there is ecological challenge for the people of Makoko as they always dread the rain; their stilt-built huts are of low level and there is an incessant leakage of the roofs. In addition, refuse, dregs and other poisonous wastes from adjoining lands are usually carried by flood into their water which always suffocate the fish in the surrounding lagoon.

The major health hazard to the Makoko community is lack of safe drinking water. Available source of water comes from the same pool in which the people defecate. The defecation also feed the fishes. And quite a circle of nature, these fishes are the main source of protein intake and income to the Makoko community.
Even children in Makoko are not left out, commuting in canoe. PHOTO: BY OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER, OGUNTIMEHIN ARIYO