Photograph — Tom Saater

Masterclass West Africa, a satellite masterclass of the World Press Photo Foundation came to a close on Sunday 12, 2017, after five days of extensive training and workshop for 12 of the region’s most talented emerging visual journalists. The class which took place in Accra, Ghana, had 12 participants, four women and eight men, selected from five West African countries. Here are some of the photos shared by participants from their ongoing projects.

Back to the village by Adrien Bitibaly – Burkina Faso

Back to the village documents the traditions, customs, and community of the village of Kouy in Burkina Faso; my village of origin that I discovered at only 28 years old. Through this photographic journey, I intend to rediscover my origins as well as developing a visual archive of Kouy,” says photographer, Bitibaly.

How to become great by Baudouin Mouanda – Congo

“It is here in the suffocating heat in the streets of Brazzaville that I decide to photograph small trades, with on question in mind: how to manage to become great? When small businesses want to grow, the answer is both difficult and complex. This is the story of Cléo, a young itinerant hairdresser and his journey across the city to find clients,” says Mouanda.

The process of relearning bodies by Yagazie Emezi – Nigeria

The Process of Relearning Bodies explores how trauma survivors left with significant scarring adopt to their new bodies while looking into how community and environment influence that individual’s psychological adjustment. It speaks of the absence of an effusive culture around body positivity as a noteworthy cultural phenomenon within African communities.”

A funeral in the village of Todo by Yanick Folly – Benin

“In my country, Benin, each community has its own way of burying the dead. It is very different from North to South. Interested in the cultural aspect of the ritual, I decided to go to Abomey, a historic city of Benin, to see how people bury the dead there.”

Photo by Rahima Gambo – Nigeria

“An increasing number of young people in the largely Islamic, conservative north of Nigeria are abusing medication that can be purchased cheaply in pharmacies across the region. This drug abuse has led to addiction issues in a generation of youth that is causing alarm in wider society. Growing drug abuse among young women and teenage girls traditionally and stereotypically seen as “good Muslim women” have been largely ignored in this conversation or cloaked in a sense of denial and shame. This yet to be titled project aims to tell a visual narrative that spans the categories of photojournalism, documentary, and art about the experiences of these young women grappling with addiction in a conservative society that has socially excluded them and deemed them as defected in some way.”

Street preachers by Teresa Meka – Ghana

“The project, Street preachers, takes a look at street preachers in Accra with an interest in the common objects and spaces they make use of. Considering the fact that these preachers are imposing figures in such spaces as the market and lorry stations, the project is aimed at taking a critical look at this age-old practice and the identity of the people engaged in it.”

A certain bed by Eric Gyamfi – Ghana

“A certain bed is a young Ghanaian man’s journey to finding and creating a new home for himself and the uncertainties of being on the road, unanchored.”

Area boys by Tom Saater – Nigeria

Saater explains the concept behind his project: “Area boys’ are synonymous with urban fear in Lagos, West Africa’s megacity and Nigeria’s commercial capital. They have no allegiance to any ideology or creed, only to their locality and the young men they cohabit it with. Many are orphans or have been disowned by their families after joining the area boys or committing a crime. Others are just trying to get by. From a distance, they are an ominous presence. Up close they can be terrifying. Area boys attacked me before I started this project, as I was shooting from a highway bridge in Lagos one night. I wanted to understand my attackers and the desperation that fuels their violence, to take a closer look at the individuals that live and perpetuate the myth of the area boy. Intimate portraits humanise these men, who are too often simplified as an urban menace. By spending time with the area boys and photographing them the way they see themselves I am exploring the truth and fiction of Lagosian gangsters.”

Modelling Identities by Francis Kokoroko – Ghana

“Established and emerging brands use the services of models to create the idyllic world consumers would aspire to. Using their bodies as mannequins to adorn these idealistic identities and ‘perfect’ characters, models generally become associated with these ‘unreal’ projections and are in reciprocity expected to play certain roles by the society. This photo project looks at the lives of fashion models living and working in Accra, Ghana and the complexities of the multiple identities they assume against the realities of living within and outside societal expectations.”

Dada by Ogungbe Ayobami – Nigeria

“This project seeks to explore the identity of people that have Dada hair in relation to the stigma that they face in their own indigenous spaces,” explains Ayobami. “Dada is the name in the Yoruba culture given to children born with naturally matted or locked hair. Ancient Yoruba civilisation believed that one’s hair is tied to their spirituality and destiny. The hair serves as a connection to the ‘Òrişà’ (deity) whom they serve and is seen as a proclamation of one’s spiritual identity. And when the child is born, its hair must not be cut to avoid the wrath of ‘Olokun’. Allowing the growth of the hair signifies the strength of the child’s spiritual identity. There is discrimination towards people that wear dada hair mostly because of misconceptions.”

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