Images of the reality of marginalization in Africa

Images of the reality of marginalization in Africa

In This Article, 30 Unfiltered Images By Peter Hugo Show The Reality Of Marginalized People In Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, And South Africa.

Peter Hugo, born in 1976, is a 44-year-old South African photographer born in Johannesburg and is now based in Cape Town.

In 2009, Peter Hugo’s book Nollywood (Nigerian cinema) was published, with images of male and female actors in the world’s third-largest film industry. Before this book, he published “Hyphena and Other Men.” Hugo has chosen Africa as the area of activity in the field of photography.

This book included pictures of a group of men living with their hyenas and baboons to learn their way of life. Peter Hugo is a self-taught photographer, and his works generally deal with different dimensions of life in Africa with a documentary approach. In 2005, Hugo won the World Press Photo Award in the portrait category.

South Africa is one of the lands that has always suffered from war and the challenges of the coexistence of different races, and the racial conflicts between whites and blacks have played an essential role in its history.

The coming to power of the South African National Party in 1948 and the period of apartheid and black people deprived of their most common rights are simple historical information that, without knowing them, Hugo’s photos might have had other meanings.

But Peter Hugo is a white African man and falls into the minority group.

A white photographer in a society that still looks like two pieces and has to try to fit in. This photographer’s favorite subject is Africa. He is known for exploring marginalized communities in Africa through the art of violent and provocative photography.

Subjects such as blackness and whiteness, the blind, people with AIDS, the elderly, honey collectors in Ghana, electronic dump workers in the outskirts of Accra in Ghana, actors in the Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood, hyenas, and men in Nigeria, and children who after 1994 and the Rwandan Genocide were born, all of which constitute Hugo’s nearly two-decade career.

In this article, some of the most powerful images of Peter Hugo are collected. His candid portraits show the world around him dealing with culture, class issues, identity, and privilege. In an interview, this photographer described his work as “frank, committed and precise.”

( Click on the images to see them in actual size)

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  • Picture location: Accra, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2010

Most of the poor people in this collection of images wear second-hand western clothes. Thousands of tons of donated clothes that are not sold in the West are shipped to Africa. In this regard, hundreds of thousands of African workers have lost their livelihood. Cotton and woolen manufacturers, fiber spinners, cloth and clothing manufacturers, clothing retailers, and the textile industry, ,are simply disrupted, and many people make a living from poetry dumps.

Peter Hugo started his career as a photojournalist, But he did not like this field of photography. However, entering the field of photography and being in this work created possibilities to discover his interests and find his unique style. Peter Hugo says this: “I was not a good photojournalist, and felt useless like a fly on the wall. “I wanted to do something that would get more attention.”

Hyena and other men

  • Picture location: Nigeria
  • Photo time: 2005

These men are called hyena men. They capture and program hyenas and other dangerous animals. Running their shows is like a traveling carnival. Some “hyena men” train baboons (a type of monkey or short-tailed antelope) to get money from the crowd. “Hyena men” train animals from a young age and travel with their families.

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  • Image location: Metadata, South Africa
  • Photo time: 2008

 

Peter Hugo says about what provoked and inspired him to photograph these subjects:

I think inspiration comes in many forms. The challenge that arises in the meantime is to develop a person’s perception of ideas. I honestly don’t have a clear goal. Much of my inspiration for work comes from my passion for interacting with and looking at the world. I tend to analyze the world to answer it. The different projects I do have different ambitions and start for various reasons. For example, some of them were created simply because of the creation of a portrait, and others because of curious wanderings.

Hyena and other men

  • Picture location: Ogre Remo, Nigeria
  • Photo time: 2007

In this picture, a man is seen next to his trained hyena. Hyena is a nocturnal animal and only shows themselves when darkness is complete and returns to their shelter before sunrise. This animal may kill itself when faced with an attack; therefore, it is known for its cowardice; However, it has been observed to have fought and defended itself against larger predators such as leopards.

Hyenas are at the top of the food pyramid. They are also precious in nature; Because by collecting and moving the carcasses in heart and transferring them to their nest and feeding on it, they reduce the possibility of spreading contagious diseases to the lowest level. Hyenas also play a crucial role in controlling pollution and cleaning the environment. Its absence in nature can disrupt the ecological balance of the ecosystem.

Seeing this species in any area can promise a bright future for all animal species in that area and even the ecosystem there; Because, in fact, the presence of hyenas helps to improve the relationship between prey and prey consumption in the ecosystem and, a sense to establish a relative ecological balance in the region.

Most of the hyena’s distribution ranges are located in open habitats or lands with fewer thorn bushes. Hyenas are abundant in open forests and scrub and mountainous regions of North Africa. The abundance of hyenas in this area is one of the reasons why some men use them to entertain others and earn money.

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  • Picture location: Johannesburg (the largest city in South Africa)
  • Photo time: 2011

 

Through portraits, natural landscapes, and natural lives of South Africa, the series of images “Native and Kin” depicts intimacy and commonality and explores its deep-rooted social issues. South Africa is a wounded and broken country full of problems. The wounds of colonialism and apartheid still seem profound. These features have made this society excessively violent. Issues of race and cultural ethnicity permeate all aspects of culture, and the legacy of forced racial segregation casts a long shadow.

At the time of apartheid, which means keeping separate and apart, people belonging to non-white races were kept. Also, they were forced to stay in certain districts and provinces. These people were deprived of all political rights and the possibility of education and advancement. Even in the areas where the blacks were forced to stay and did not have the right to leave, the minimum means of living were not available.

How does a person live in this society? How does one take responsibility for history, and to what extent should one try? Peter Hugo took a similar approach in his project about the North Rhine town of South Africa on the border of Zimbabwe, Musina. He reflects on the wounds of racism, being classified in society, and other things people deal with.

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  • Picture location: Accra, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2009

This article depicts images from Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa through the lens of Peter Hugo’s camera. In his project entitled “Looking aside,” Hugo has candidly recorded the people who make us look aside. The subjects of this collection are people with white skin, the blind, the elderly, and even Hugo’s family. He believes that perhaps these images make us confront our prejudice against people who are unusual and different in some way.

On his website, Hugo explains the frame he deliberately chose for this collection. The government used photography in South Africa as a tool for classification and segregation. All South Africans were required to carry a photo ID.

Hyena and other men

  • Picture location: Ogre Remo, Nigeria
  • Photo time: 2007

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  • Picture location: Accra, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2009

The “Permanent Error,” the name of many of the images in this series, is a vast accumulation of technological waste from around the world on the outskirts of Accra, the capital of Ghana. It is full of local people who collect and burn pieces to extract precious metal pieces for resale. By doing this, they create a lot of toxic waste and endanger the area.

Peter Hugo says: “I think it’s fair to say that this area, dubbed ‘Agbogbelushi Market,’ is a dark and grimy monument to the digital age and a monument to our faith in technology and its internal obsolescence.” This idea of ​​excess and waste, which is key to our digital experience, doesn’t seem to be one that many people are comfortable dealing with. Being in such an environment is very heavy. “It is disturbing to even think that poor countries can be used as a burial ground for such waste.”

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  • Picture location: Accra, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2010

Permanent error

  • Picture location: Accra, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2009

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  • Picture location: Accra, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2010

Wild honey collectors

  • Image location: Ghana, South Africa
  • Photo time: 2005

Wild honey collectors are men in Ghana who cover themselves with leaves and plastic bags due to the sensitivity of their job. They do a very dangerous job of harvesting honey from wild bee colonies. Honey is harvested by burning tree nests. As a result, it often contains soot and can only be sold in local markets at a low price. This is a very destructive type of work and even dangerous due to the presence of killer bees; But it is the only means of earning money for these men.

Looking aside

  • Picture location: Johannesburg (the largest city in South Africa)
  • Photo time: 2003

Being homeless in Africa can be much more difficult than elsewhere. They are rejected in many parts of the world because of their strange appearance. This means they have to beg for food and have no money to buy sunscreen. For this reason, among these people, skin cancer is very common. Even worse, in some countries, these people are at risk of being killed due to assassination attempts and the use of their body parts in witchcraft.

Looking aside

  • Photo location: Ward, South Africa
  • Photo time: 2006

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  • Image location: South Africa
  • Photo time: 2016

“1994” is a series depicting children born after 1994 in South Africa and Rwanda. Both countries faced important historical events in 1994, and this collection shows a generation of children in the post-revolution era.

On April 6, 1994, the plane carrying the Hutu president of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, and Cyprin Ntariamira, the president of Burundi, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile near the airport in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

After the death of the president, the extreme Hutus attributed the incident to the Tutsi opposition and launched massive attacks against the Tutsi ethnic minority and the moderate Hutus. The massacre in Rwanda lasted for a hundred days until the rebel forces, in which Tutsi were the majority, were able to take control of the situation.

It is said that during these 100 days, about 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were killed by the extremist Hutus. The control of the rebels led to the escape of about two million members of the Hutu tribe to the country of Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo). With international mediation, the civil war ended and the government of national reconciliation has taken over.

The Rwandan massacre has had widespread political consequences, and the international community and the United Nations were criticized for refusing to intervene in time to end it. Laurent Kabila, the leftist leader of the Congo, succeeded in overthrowing the dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Soko, in 1997 with the help of the Rwandan Tutsi government and with the help of Uganda.

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  • Picture location: Rwanda
  • Photo time: 2014

Most of the images of the “1994” collection were taken in the villages around Rwanda and South Africa. In this place, there is a narrow border between nature, which is ideal in every way, and the place where the terrible events of the genocide took place. The more you get out of the city and its control systems, the more primitive things come to your eyes. Sometimes the children who are photographed seem conservative.

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  • Picture location: Rwanda
  • Photo time: 2014

With international mediations, the civil wars in Rwanda ended and the government of national reconciliation took control of the situation; But these massacres had major consequences on the lives of that generation of people and the next generations. A generation that saw rape, death, and looting with its own eyes and must carry it with them until the end of their lives.

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  • Picture location: Rwanda
  • Photo time: 2015

With an area of ​​26,338 square kilometers, Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Central Africa and is located a little below the equator. This country is covered with pastures, fields and many hills. In the northwest of this country, there is a volcanic region, a mountain range (which continues to the southeast) and a mountain called Karisimbi, which is the highest point in the country with a height of 4507.

Rwanda is also known as the country of a thousand hills. This naming is due to the fact that from the western slopes of the mentioned mountain ranges, the lands go downhill, which continues to Lake Kyu and the valley of Rouzizi River. On the other hand, the eastern hills of the mountain range are smoother and join the plains, marshes and lakes of the country’s eastern border with a gentle slope.

Hugo says about his pictures:

The most challenging part of my job is editing. Photographers are terrible editors; But my most rewarding work is that editing my images rarely bores me and even makes me curious.

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  • Image location: Akka, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2010

Hyena and other men

  • Picture location: Nigeria
  • Photo time: 2005

Hugo’s controversial works have provoked mixed reactions around the world. However, he is still one of the best photographers in South Africa because of his honest and straightforward approach. “I’m always surprised by the things people who oppose me say about my work,” he says. Conversation is good, but conversation about difficult issues is necessary. If my work provokes a discussion, I will be happy and that is the goal of my photography collections.”

His artworks are in large solo exhibitions in the best museums in the world such as Museu Coleção Berardo in Lisbon, Museum für Kuns und Kulturgeschichte in Dortmund, National Portrait Gallery in London, Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, Museum of Multimedia Art in Moscow, Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Museum of Photography In Stockholm, MAXXI has been shown in Rome and many other group exhibitions including Tate Modern, Folkwang Museum, Fondação Kalouste Gulbenkian and São Paulo Biennial.

His paintings can be seen in prominent public and private collections including MOMA NY, V&A, Center Pompidou, J Paul Getty Museum and Rijks Museum. In 2018, Hugo received the Discovery Award at Rencontres d’Arles and the KLM Paul Huf Award , and in 2011, the Seydoux Keita Award at the Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial.

Hyena and other men

  • Picture location: Abuja, Nigeria
  • Photo time: 2005

Filmed in Nigeria, The Hyena and Other Men is a popular series that depicts a group of travelers who perform with hyenas, baboons and pythons to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicine. The interesting photographs in this collection depict the relationship between people and animals that have been taken out of the wild as pets, such as puppies.

Peter says:

Hyena men are a family and what they do with animals has a long history and tradition. I do not agree with this. But I can see the beauty of their relationships with animals and even the cruelty. I guess like all relationships, it’s hard to judge them. They also deal with different economic realities than most people in the world, and the ways of making money here are different than in other parts of the world.

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  • Picture location: Accra, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2010

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  • Image location: South Africa
  • Photo time: 2015

Hyena and other men

  • Picture location: Abuja, Nigeria
  • Photo time: 2005

Hyena and other men

  • Picture location: Abuja, Nigeria
  • Photo time: 2005

Wild honey collectors

  • Image location: Ghana, South Africa
  • Photo time: 2005

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  • Image location: Ghana, South Africa
  • Photo time: 2009

The trade in hazardous waste has progressed to such an extent that some European ports such as the port of Rotterdam have become one of the most important trading centers for this waste and a route to send it to countries such as poor African countries. In Africa, Ghana, Somalia and Nigeria are among the most important regions that have become the dumping ground of industrialized countries. These wastes have caused a lot of damage to the people of this country and have led to major crises at times. The Abidjan crisis in the Ivory Coast in 2006 and the death of some Indian people in the so-called Bhopal gas crisis, which occurred due to the contamination of underground water with chemicals, are examples of such damages.

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  • Image location: Akka, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2009

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  • Image location: Akka, Ghana
  • Photo time: 2010