“You can’t get that shot! Let me get it for you,” said a male photographer at a wedding as he grabbed my camera and proceeded to take photos. I was too stunned to react and watched him in stupefaction. It was the one of the many times a man had told me how to work but it was also the first time someone had implied I didn’t have the technical or compositional skills to capture an image. Many years later, I would become aware that it won’t be the last as it became part of the many incidences where I would be degraded and taught how to do my job.
In 2015, I graduated from school and landed in Nigeria determined to document the everyday lives of our people. At first, I was an odd sight. “What is she doing?”, was the usual question. I am a Kanuri woman from a conversation Muslim community with a camera. It was a rarity. Once I created a social media page and started posting stories like “Humans of New York” but for Borno, the page “Bits of Borno” spread like wildfire. Countless media organizations focused on profiling me as one of the first Kanuri women photojournalists in the area. It was surreal and shocking but deeply gratifying to see how not only our image as a conflict state was changing but the discussions of the role of women in certain professions was restarting. It was deeply moving. There were many letters of support. Endless beautiful, heart warming messages from women, men and even children.
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