It was in the ’90s. I was just a pupil of Oregbeni Estate School, Ikpoba Hill. I’m proud of this woman, everything about this photograph speaks style. Anyone would be excited to have those thick-framed, nerdy glasses now(hers was worn for medical reasons though), yes? Her quiff reminds me of Bruno Mars and his wannabes. That yellow/biro blue(my favourite colours)blouse and skirt sit perfectly on her olive-coloured skin. This was the era when women covered their bodies. The fabric used for sewing just the sleeves can be used to make a me dress! She even applied red lipstick!
I remember the afternoon this picture was taken, it was in her famous Tesmor restaurant. That’s one of the tables she’s sitting on. I can imagine one of Paddywoman’s girls saying to a customer, “Abeg bros, wait small. We nor fit sell now, madam dey busy.” Poor hungry customer.
Even the photographer was something! I remember how long it took him to get a good shot of my brother and his fiancee. More annoying was the fact that they had chosen our street as motion ground, so imagine how much time they had to wait for cars, animals and people to pass, in between snap shots to get a perfect photograph for their wedding invitation card; exactly the reason I figure, my impatient brother did not walk out on Collins and his camera. Another might have been because Collins was the only photographer in my neighbourhood at the time.
He would say, “Turn your neck like this. Bend your head go that side. Open ur eye well na. Put your legs like that make that wound for nor show.” When the photograph eventually came out, one could still see the ‘wound’ and if you questioned him, he would say, “Nor be my fault, na so your leg be.” Seriously?! And you wasted twenty minutes of my life while taking the photographs and made me assume your eyes were better than Adobe photoshop?! I doubt photoshop existed then. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did though. Collins was usually the last to hear about the latest developments in photography. All the pictures I remember he snapped are similar, including the poses. So whenever I come across a photograph of someone sitting or standing, with one hand holding the other wrist, I know it must have been Collins’, the last carrier’s handwork.
As years went by, less people patronised him, either because they saw the light(in this case, finding a better photographer), or be cause they were rich enough to buy a camera phone; thanks to Obasanjo for introducing GSM phones to Nigerians. Collins’ clientele became mainly young girls, to whom he must have made a pass at some point. That was another talent Collins had. He was a serial ‘toaster’! One could get a free photosession for agreeing to be his babe.
I hear, that he later packed up his business and decided(like many young people in this part of the world) to trek to Europe in search of greener pastures. It was called trekking I presume, because they had to go through Kano to Zeedan by bus, to two other towns before getting to Muzuk, a town in Libya(being that Libya is the gateway between Africa and Europe).
Whether he succeeded in getting into Europe, or was killed by armed bandits, sandstorms or the scorching sun while passing through the Sahara, I do not know. I hope however, that for the sake of the beautiful woman smiling at him in this photograph, that he survived and is living a good life wherever.
Oghogho Omorotionmwan is a freelance blogger who enjoys gisting, sleeping and surfing the net. She is also very interested in fashion. she is currently a Geology major at the University of Benin, Benin-city. You can also follow her on twitter: @owggee