A visual history of Benin City returns home

News

LAST month an extraordinary collection of photographs returned to Nigeria. Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge took pictures of the people of Benin City for over half a century, amassing an archive of more than 3,000 images. Spanning British rule and the early decades of independence, it is a visual record of style and self-expression, of everyday humanity in a country in flux.

As the first official photographer of the court of Benin, Alonge documented palace life and pageantry from 1933 to 1979. In a photograph from 1938, Oba Akenzua II, the monarch, stands between the Earl of Plymouth and Nigeria’s governor-general, looking into the distance. His richly-layered robes and coral beads contrast with the stiff white uniforms of the British, his perturbed but determined stare with their disdainful gazes. A hand-coloured image from 1956 shows the Oba bowing slightly as he shakes the white-gloved hand of Queen Elizabeth II, four years before the declaration of Nigeria’s independence. Again it is a photo of contrasts, his rust-tinted regalia…Continue reading

Powered by WPeMatico

News
Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

News
Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

News
Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

Esther Kinsky goes with history’s flow River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books. IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing …