The road has been a gift that keeps on giving even though most times it’s a repetition of what has happened before. Enter a new place, get familiar, meet people, seek permission, lift a camera, click, repeat, and sometimes stumble on amazing discoveries that would have been impossible without being on the road.
But as strangers permit me into their spaces, I learn to watch them, to ask questions, to listen to the voice of silence, to wait and to see how things pan out.
I pay attention to what they do with their hands, the language unspoken and how they create magic from the seemingly mundane.
I see metaphors of life at every turn. In how an older man guides a young boy in fitting pieces of materials together. In a woman’s hands as she makes cakes in her home in Bauchi. In a boy welding scraps of metal together in Jos. I rarely stay to the end because the road would not permit. So I re-imagine.
I re-imagine what the world would be like if we were all magicians. Say the magic words and what wasn’t, suddenly is.
Would anything be worth a thing?
I re-imagine what it would be like if things just happen. If there were no in-betweens. We start the road trip and the next moment it comes to an end.
Would I have pieces of people’s lives in me just as I have left bits of myself in them? Would I have made the discoveries I’ve made? Learn the skills I’ve learned? Would I have become different from — better than— the person who started the trip?
Like Joni Mitchel sang, “I look at life from both sides now…” Everything needs time.
PS: All photographs in this post were made in Bauchi and Jos. Special thanks to Sifa for permitting me into her home, to Mr. Muhammed for letting me in his workshop, and Mr. Sunday for his showroom. I’m super grateful.