Early in November, a group made up of Nigerian, Ghanaian and Sudanese photographers set out from Lagos on a 12,000 km journey by road to Addis Ababa. For forty days, they crossed from Nigeria to Cameroon to Chad to Sudan and into Ethiopia, experiencing the local communities in their raw, refreshing states.
The trip was the third in the series of the Invisible-Borders project, which the initiators hope will test the supposed oneness and unity among Africans, in spite of the physical demarcations at border posts.
“Willingly, we cramped ourselves in Peugeots that would have otherwise sufficed for only our baggage,” recalls writer Emmanuel Iduma who blogged about the entire journey. “Willingly, we sat in buses that had little spaces for our legs. Willingly, we drove in cars with drivers who became our friends only when they began to drive us, and not before.”
In very reflective prose, Iduma highlights the highs and lows of the adventure as well as the unique features of the places they passed through and the everyday people they came across. Though every detail of the trip was spelled out from the onset, there still were scary uncertainties. None of the travellers had ever been to the countries on the Invisible-Borders itinerary before.
“Before arriving at each destination, we confirmed our place of stay. But there was no way to confirm what such a place looked like, if it would conform to our tastes, and expectations,” Iduma writes in one of his final posts. “In N’djamena, we went to four hotels before settling for Hotel Donfong; after a day we left Hotel Dongfong for Hotel du Sahel.”
The team is back in Nigeria and is taking stock. In 2012, they plan to share bits from their experiences with the public, through exhibitions and other media events. Iduma states the mindset of the group when he writes: “we will not stop moving, we will take part in building a trans-African artistic highway.”
In 2012, I encourage our readers to get more adventurous and explore their world, both immediate and distant. The inspiration to do that is already in these pages. See you all in the New Year.
Winner, CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Awards (Tourism Category)