Wednesday, December 23, 2009
There are hundreds of ethnic groups in Nigeria, each with its own language and traditions. Among other things which are part of these traditions are various hairstyles. These are determined by the social position of the family, and the artistic talent of the hair stylist. Among them there are special hairstyles for ceremonies such as circumcisions, a woman's becoming an adult, or the celebration of a marriage. Today it is difficult to trace the background of certain hairstyles because various ethnic groups have mixed together, and adapted to modern culture. Many hairstyles have died out, taking their secrets to the grave with them. Since 1968 Ojeikere (b. Nigeria, 1930) has been making photographs of various hairstyles he sees on the street or at work, or at celebrations. He always asks his models where the hairstyle they are wearing comes from, what its meaning is, its name, and its history. In 1961 Ojeikere became the studio photographer for the first African television station. He opened his own studio in 1975, Foto Ojeikere. During an arts festival in 1968 he decided to begin photographing Nigerian cultural life. Since then he has travelled through the country in search of subjects. It was that same year he also began his "Hairstyles" series.