ART: How the world interacts with bodily scars

Saturday November 30 2019

Nigerian photographer Yagazie Emezi.

Nigerian photographer Yagazie Emezi. PHOTO | ANDREW I KAZIBWE | NMG 

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Nigerian photographer Yagazie Emezi’s series Process of Re-learning Bodies was part of the Hamwe Festival, hosted by the University of Global Health Equity on November 12, at the Kigali Exhibition Village.

The festival, which took place from November 8 to 13, highlighted outstanding women in African art.

Re-learning Bodies introduces a new angle to how we contemplate humanity, while embracing the reality of who we are.

Her photographs of scarred bodies explore how humans embrace their fragility within the African community. The exhibition presented eight photographs.

The project is inspired by Emezi’s experiences while growing up in Nigeria (she relocated to the US when she was 16).

Emezi has a scar on her leg, which she says was talked about openly in Nigeria. However, in the US, she noticed that people would just stare at her scar without talking about it, so she covered it up.


Emezi’s project led her to farmers, hotel managers, and high- and middle-class women across Nigeria, Senegal and Liberia.

People of higher social economic classes were more hesitant about being photographed. Emezi observed how embracing scars is usually attained by default, as people, especially in the rural areas, barely have time to contemplate the matter.

Emezi, 30, is cautious about the power of photography and its impact, as most images about Africa depict some form of violence and negative situations. She prefers to focus on positive and contemplatives concepts.

Emezi’s works spark debate on how human’s embrace the body, and also give concrete proof of how nature is indeed interconnected in creation.

In closer observation of the skin and scar details, one sees a resemblance with leaf vein structure, while some scars resemble cracks on rocks.

Emezi has been based in Lagos since 2014, from where she documents African culture, women, travel and society. This is her first personal project as a photographer.

She is the 2018 Getty Images inaugural Creative Bursary Award recipient, and has also been featured by the British Journal of Photography, Huffington Post, Nieman Reports, Paper Magazine, Vogue and The Washington Post.