Being a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, I find orphan boys— popularly referred to as Almajiris— roam the streets with plastic bowls seeking alms. It is a sight that always leaves me overwhelmed the extent to which empathy allows me. It is no news that Africa still struggles with hunger, malnutrition, child labour, disease, and many other ills that greatly affects the survival of its teeming young.
It might interest you to know that this photo is— in some way— a self portrait. It is true that I have come to see the bodies of black boys as canvases on which to paint my current state of mind/reality, and also to share memories of my gloomy past. There’s the experiences of struggles with depression, misery, lack, neglect, pressure, hopelessness, and many more striking themes replete in my works.
Below, you’ll find an image that is telling. Visual art that is pregnant with feeling, emotions. You’ll hear whispers that invite you to a sacred fellowship of experiences, as far as empathy allows you. This captures my heart cry for Africa/humanity to consider her own, & it is also subtle protest against societal norms that are unfair, unjust, & brutal. It gives voice, especially, to the boy child, who— in this part of the world— is being subjected into so much hardship only fair to a beast-of-burden.
MARTINS DEEP is a Nigerian poet & photographer. He is passionate about documenting muffled stories of the African experience in his poetry & visual art. Writing from Kaduna, or whichever place he finds himself, the acrylic of inspiration that spills from his innermost being tends to paint various depictions of humanity/life in his environment. His creative works have appeared, or are forthcoming in Barren Magazine, Chestnut Review, Mineral Lit Mag, Agbowó Magazine, Writers Space Africa, Dream Glow, Suburban Review, Variant Literature, & elsewhere. He is also the brain behind Shotstoryz Photography and can be reached via Twitter: @martinsdeep1