MEDINA DUGGER CELEBRATES NIGERIAN HAIRSTYLE IN A PHOTO SERIES, CHROMA, WHERE SHE PAYS ODE TO J.D. OKHAI OJEIKERE
Read excerpts from her interview with Diaspora Connex:
Q : So, the big question, why did you move to Nigeria for good?
Every time I leave Lagos, even when I’m ‘tired’ and feel ready for a break, only a couple weeks pass before I find myself underwhelmed and missing the rhythm. My family is what I miss most when I’m here, but I’ve met some wonderful friends and expect my family to visit more in the future. There are few places as visceral or engaging as Lagos. As far as home goes, Lagos feels as much my home as anywhere else I’ve lived. I’ve never met a city where I felt a greater sense of inspiration, purpose and fulfillment. There is no place like Lagos.
Q: What are the challenges you’ve faced so far since you moved here?
Aside from the obvious, (electricity) some of my other challenges have been keeping cool while driving in traffic, dealing with sound/air pollution from the generators (making something like a walk or bike ride at times unpleasant) and the recent inconvenience with the fuel scarcity. The price of goods/living in Lagos is by far the largest challenge. It’s the most expensive city I’ve ever lived in and beyond prohibitive.
Q: What were your expectations and fears when you decided to move to Nigeria?
My initial fears had to do with the fact that I had never been to Nigeria before and had very little knowledge other than the message perpetuated by mass media which is mostly negative. I worried about whether I would be safe, if I would be welcome and fit in here. Luckily I felt welcome and safe from the moment I arrived. I made amazing friends and contacts through my job at the African Artists’ Foundation. My expectations were to experience the city for myself and contribute to the art scene which is exactly what happened.
Q: When did you move to Nigeria and what have you been up to since your move?
I moved here in 2011. I came to work for an organization dedicated to the promotion of contemporary African Art, to change the dialogue about Africa and drive positive social change. When I initially moved here I just expected to stay for 6 months. I was hired as a project coordinator for the African Artists’ Foundation and Lagos Photo Festival. After 6 months, I continued on, learning more about Nigerian art, and curating.
Q: How do you deal with issues such as traffic, lack of basic infrastructure and the power situation?
By being as prepared as possible. I charge my devices when I know I’ll have power not when they run out. Now I am freelancing I plan my schedule to avoid busy traffic periods of the day. I try to stay on top of things like getting water for the house, getting fuel etc so if there’s a problem, I’m ok. At the end of the day, friends are always there to help out. I have a bike, I can get around if I need.
Q: Finally, what advice would you give people moving back to Nigeria from the Diaspora?
That you won’t regret it if you are ready to put in your time and work hard. Lagos isn’t easy but the gratification is priceless with a job well done. The city is unique. There are so many people doing interesting things and looking to collaborate. The biggest issue is respecting the timing of things and finding balance between work/play/relaxation. There’s so much going on now it’s hard to focus and to convince yourself to sit your ass down at home sometimes. It’s important to stay home some days. It’s important to have a place you can go to chill and take a break if you need to get away from the hustle. Because Mon-Fri the hustle is real. Do you hear that? It’s Lagos calling!
See photos from her series celebrating African hair below: