Pokart waz ere, Jos (Kemi Akin-Nibosun)
Emmanuel Iduma: What is your project about?
Kemi Akin-Nibosun: My project is about imposing; I mean it’s about being in Invisible Borders and what Invisible Borders is about. Invisible Borders is about crossing several borders and forming relationships. My work relates to this because I am part of Invisible Borders, I am part of going into these places and imposing myself. For example, we are in Chad; the Chadian government didn’t invite me, I’m here imposing myself. In some parts of my work you’ll see “pokart waz ere”, that’s like leaving remnants of myself behind.
EI: This is very interesting. First of all, you talked about how we intend to form relationships, basically blurring these borders. I’m more interested in knowing not just about your project but what we are trying to do as a collective and why you think we need to form these relationships. Also, why do you think the independent structures that we already have shouldn’t exist anymore?
P KAN: For me, I would have to say, before coming to Chad I had my own presumptions, even of Cameroon which is just next door to Nigeria. Coming on this trip has allowed me to make my own judgments about these places. I think that’s the fundamental of this project. It’s for Africans to learn from themselves and explore themselves. For example when we were crossing the border from Cameroon to Chad and there was friction between the drivers and us, that’s all part of it – lack of understanding. It goes deeper than that, it’s like each country, society, and community have their own way of thinking. The Cameroonian driver understood the Nigerian female mentality and the Nigerian male mentality and played us against each other and we didn’t realize that until later. So that’s an example of learning from each other. In Tchad the mentality is different, the psychology is different. We are not only learning the culture, we are also learning how other people think, maybe it would teach us more about ourselves.
EI: Very beautiful. I think it is important that we have clarity of mind. As artists and photographers, it’s clarity of mind that leads to clarity of vision. I kind of found it very problematic when you used the word ‘imposed’ for your project. I think it would be better if you elaborate what you mean by ‘impose’ because nobody asked you to impose yourself and nobody cares if “pokart waz ere” in that sense. So it’s important we understand the scope of what you mean by imposition.
"...I’ve left something behind." Pokart Waz ere, Abuja (Kemi Akin-Nibosun)
P KAN: Well, when I say I’m imposing myself, I don’t mean it in the sense that I would come, destroy and leave or come, re-arrange and leave. (Although I will be doing a small amount of that because you cannot impose without leaving a mark.) What I mean is that I am an entity, a complete body. As a complete body moving through these channels a mark must be left. Like it or not, my mark is left in this hotel, physically, emotionally, and spiritually I’ve left something behind.
"...a mark must be left." Drive Through the Cameroun Desert, Cameroun (Kemi Akin-Nibosun)
P KAN: Well… partly, because our purpose on earth is to create. For me, it’s also an outlet. It is more like a channel to let things out.