Rubee Samuel, Omo Nigeria / Book
Rubee Samuel: Omo Nigeria

‘Omo’ means child in Yoruba. In 2019, photographer Rubee Samuel self-funded a trip to Lagos to teach photography at two primary schools. Omo Nigeria is her first book and shows the results of her teachings and the portrait sessions: “These are the school portraits that were never taken of me; these were the classmates that I never had.”

The book is split into two parts mirroring Rubee’s two contrasting experiences during the creation of the project: going back to school and seeing it first through the eyes of a child and then also as an adult. The first part is introduced by writer Kelechi Okafor and the second by poet Jolade Olusanya. During her photography workshops she introduced the children to the work of established West African photographers and then to the ideas behind fashion stories: styling and storytelling through photography. With props and clothes she enabled the children to enter the fantasy worlds of dressing up within the grown-up conceptual world of an editorial fashion story.

The book also explores Rubee Samuel’s own questions of her identity, childhood and citizenship. This became an unexpectedly personal project for her as she went back to school – even though she had never been educated there, she felt as if she was back at her alma mater and this false memory jarred with her London schooling recollections:

“Here I was walking through a school in Surelere contemplating the childhood that was never mine. At naptime after lunch, I recognised an innocence in the sleeping children, one that I could have possessed. I saw the childhood that everyone else speaks of with such fondness. Comfortable in their surroundings, these children slept peacefully. They were free from judgement: no responsibilities, no qualms. As the children awoke in a place where one could unconsciously submit to dreams confident of return, I recognised a reflection of myself.”

Creative subjects are still not included in the national school curriculum nor are they really encouraged as a hobby to pursue at a young age. Rubee believes that early exposure to the arts is vital to building the next generation of African creatives and image-makers.

104 pages
Hand Numbered, Hand Stamped, Hand Signed
With exclusive Photodiary Book
With OMO NIGERIA Postcards
Hardback, 256mm x 210mm

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