Thursday, November 19, 2009

The 205th good thing about Lagos: Great pictures from others on my coffee table and pictures of my own in my mind!

On our trip to Badagry earlier this fall, we got acquainted with a very interesting man who has become a friend. Victor is a successful entrepeneur and is talented in a business sense, but also has a passion and talent for photography. He has homes in other places besides Nigeria, but this country has become his most recent outlet for his photography obsession. (He referred to it as an obsession himself, so hopefully he won't mind if I do so as well. ;o)) He recently published a beautiful coffee-table book of his pictures of Nigeria and, when I expressed interest, he allowed me the opportunity to sell it to my friends at a discount to what they would pay in stores here, with some of the purchase price going to charity. His book Nigeria through the Eyes of a Passerby is very popular with many expats here because it has the scenes of Nigeria that we see on the street but most frequently are unable to get our cameras out in time to photograph. He is able to capture those pictures on film (except that's become just an expression now, hasn't it? It's not really on film but on pixels....) that we all have just in our minds. He shows the every-day people on the street with a dignity and respect that I really appreciate. I laughed when I first was paging through his book and saw his photo of a goat as a passenger on an okada, a motorcycle taxi. The goat is looking back at the camera with a pensive look. It was a delight to see it because I had seen just such a scene, except the photo in my mind was a bit better because there were two goats being held between the okada driver and his human passenger, each facing opposite directions. From behind, I saw a goat head and two goat legs poking out from each side between the people motorcycle riders -- it looked like a goat with a head on each end! Victor would have done great things with that shot! (As an aside, while we're on the subject of goat transport photos --a friend recently showed me a series of photos she had taken of a taxi they had passed on the street that was crammed full of goats. She said there must have been at least 20 goats stuffing the cab!) Anyway, I'm very glad now to have a book of similar pictures to the ones that I have kicking around in my mind -- and with pictures much more beautiful than I could ever take with my camera. Thank you Victor!

I should be packing right now for the Thanksgiving trip I'll leave for tonight. Brent's on business in London and Jordan will be leaving his university studies at BYU and we're meeting in Barcelona and going on a cruise to relax together and enjoy some European-style culture. Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! But before my mind gets cluttered with this different variety of culture, I want to paint a word-picture of a sight I saw this past weekend. I want to write it down so I will be reminded when my powers of recall aren't working so well (as seems to be happening more frequently these days). I was telling Victor that I wish he had seen it and been able to record it -- the picture in my mind is so beautiful. I was riding to church on the road that goes through a little village. I love this road because there's so much activity happening there on Sunday mornings. There are shacks with tomatoes and peppers piled high, peeks into rooms with people gathered for worship, and the sounds of the preacher and singing as we pass. There are people going about their morning activities, and all the activity is just a few feet from my car window. As I passed by on Sunday, standing so close I could have reached out to touch her if I had rolled down my window, was a young girl of about 7, standing nude beside a plastic tub of soapy water. She was standing, head upright, with the contropposto stance of a classical sculpture. Half of her black torso was white, covered with a thick soapy lather. Her younger brother (I assumed), maybe about 5 years old, was crouched beside her with a cloth scrubbing at her legs, covering them with the thick soap. He was so intent on scrubbing her clean -- I couldn't have imagined that my body had ever been scrubbed with such intensity. Overseeing this cleansing was their mother, standing by, looking on for quality control, while her son performed this service for his sister. Then again, maybe I'm romanticizing the scene. The mother was watching with one hand on hip -- maybe her son was doing penance for some teasing act he did to his sister and possibly his vigorous scrubbing was him acting out his frustration with his punishment. But I like the first scenario better! Anyway, I hope you can picture a little bit of this scene of dignity that I was allowed to witness. I do so treasure and, at this time of Thanksgiving, am grateful for the pictures of Nigeria that I now carry with me in my mind!

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