Baltimore.

This is deep. .

yesivebeenthere2

I’m not black, and I’ve never been persecuted for my skin color. But. I know what it’s like to endure years of unrelenting abuse at the hands of power.

If you’ve never experienced it, if your mind can’t grasp the scale, then maybe this personal story will help you understand.

My mother beat the shit out of me from 3 to 13. CRUNCH! There’s no suitable onomatopoeia for the sound of an adult’s hand belting a child across the face. There’s no word that describes what it’s like to feel your cartilage ring. She’d backhand me across the face for nothing, out of nowhere. She’d beat me with whatever was handy — spoon, belt, hand — and she’d always scream at me that it was my fault. I made her do it. There was always a reason, always a transgression. “You’re only hurting yourself!” CRACK!

By the time I was…

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TRIBUTE TO A “PIPELINE ENGINEER”

“Can’t live with them, can’t live without them” people seem to suppose it refers to women. Believe me, it has zilch to do with women but everything to do with “FATHERS” I mean these people can so be on your case you’ll doubt they parented you especially when it comes to your liberty from them.

This “tory” here is one with a whole lot of personal touch. After our junior WAEC, we all came back with trousers indicating our elevated survival skill in the bittersweet environment of FGC Ik Ek. Just before we are admitted into our different arms, we had to lineup and see the school counselor (I know it’s no longer practiced, neither do schools have counselors again) who will review our strengths and weaknesses in different subjects, ask you some personal questions and ambitions as to what you want to be in the future.

When my turn came, I knew I wanted to be an engineer but the type of engineer was what I hadn’t decided and so I told him I wanted to be a “pipeline engineer” hilarious abi? Well that was the only engineering that I thought was cool because my “oldman” was one and everywhere I turned as at then, the word “pipeline always came up and so I loved what I thought I knew of it. After the counselor heard me out, he counseled me into the “D” or “Engineering” class with all the other cool and hyped students in my set (pun intended)

Right now, am neither a “pipeline engineer” nor an engineer of any sort but a Passionate Professional Photographer (PPP) and that’s all thanks to my “oldman” who sort of played me into the line with this quote “you know you don’t always have to practice what you read in school” if that’s an actual quote from anyone. And that’s how I got into PHOTOGRAPHY

Now, why am I rambling on about this you might ask? Today! 6th Nov 2014 makes that man who played me into photography a year older so here’s my tribute to the “PIPELINE ENGINEER” whose job as a civil engineer in the PPMC has seen him in the most dangerous of terrains and conditions in the country all in the bit to fix what the vandals had messed up, coming home at times with raw laps from walking in swamps mixed with raw crude up to waist level (we actually had a laugh on how he had to walk without his laps touching for days).

We’ve had the craziest of fights and wiles, but like he said in our last talk, “I WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR FATHER” and so it brings me to the first quote “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” am sure am through with the first phase of the quote “can’t live with them” now am in the next phase “can’t live without them”

Retired a few years back as a big boy in the ranks, he is now settled into his passion “photography” owning a top notch photo studio business in Port Harcourt (BSG Pro Imaging Ltd) and runs a “GIVE THEM HOPE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION” aimed at training and empowering young women, orphans, inmates in the business of photography. That’s what a friend terms “retirement made beautiful”

So that I no go write novel for facebook, on behalf of the entire family, am wishing this ex-pipeline engineer and photographer a beautiful birthday and plenty more.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY “OLDMAN”

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My “Fryofa” town

Uyo. While cruising out of the town, a gradual smile sneaks to my face as I reminisce on all the “akpans and ekaettes” living proudly in this beautiful town. My use of the term “beautiful town” is entirely mine as ure entitled to yours.

I came in for a friends wedding the next day Saturday and since I had the whole Friday evening to myself, I spent it in checking out the nite life of the town. The major reason being that there’s been a whole lot of noise about the transformations that has taken place in the town. So armed with my vision of the town from ten years ago, I moved around and believe me I was impressed (that’s rare).

Being a PHOTOGRAPHER, I viewed the town in a completely different perspective compared to the regular guy (no hard feelings). All the compositions of a good photograph were in every corner of the town that evening. From couples sneaking kisses on the well trimmed lawn under billboard shadows to friends sitting on the sidewalk benches overlooking the fountain to mallams blazing their fire to warm their suya to the recharge card gurl with an earpiece in her ears, to the beer joint staff running around to attend to their customers. It was unfortunate I wasn’t with my gear cos with the right equipment, I could “STILL” all these scenes.

For that day and that moment I was content to just join the onlookers who at that moment were left to their personal thoughts and plans. And my thoughts? Simple! I love my state and it’s present leadership who in a sense has made the state worthy of her indigenes returning to establish and invest in her.

I remember a time not quite a while ago when my people (am saying this with all the pride in me) where known for house girlism/boyism and gatemanship (until the abokis steped in.).
The era of the fryover and the Bong! Bong!! Bong!!! A period when most Akwa Ibomites weren’t so proud of their heritage and the comedians had the best cracks and ovations imitating us.

This was a period when an “Akan” became a “Kan”, an “Itoro-obong” became “Praise”, an “Mfon” became a “Fon”, you could literally get a laugh by the way some of this names were shortened or abbreviated I in particular was an “Eny Basi” for a while on Facebook. Now “Enobong” means God’s Gift (beautiful abi?) but wetin “Eny” mean abeg. Yeah that was the period

Now fast forward to now, you don’t have to take a flight to Calabar and pay a ridiculous amount to a cab guy to bring you to Uyo any more, you don’t have to do your business in Uyo and go to Port Harcourt or Calabar to Lodge and relax, You don’t have to graduate from UniUyo and go else where to look for a job or invest. Akwa Ibom is now a One stop shop with all the local govt. areas gradually blending into Uyo town to form a metro-city.

Am not going to bore you anymore on this issue, I just got overtaken by the happenings and scenery of the town. Mind you, am saying all these as a photographer, and my conceptualization of the type of photographs I can get off the street of Uyo. So you hardcore critics pls don’t bare your fangs at my visions of the town.

Am dropping of here buh I’ll will definitely be back to her soonest and this time, I will be armed with my equipment to do proper photographic justice to Akwa Ibom state and you will be the judge of what I have written here20140719-222554-80754871.jpg

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Penny Wise Pound Foolish

They stepped into my studio for enquiries on wedding coverage. We talked for a while and went through samples and pictures of past wedding we’ve covered after which they left. The bride to be was excited by the thought of bridal showers and a complimentary dinner during the post wedding shoot but the groom couldn’t be bothered less. After a week, I called them and the groom calmly explained that my package was too expensive and that they have found something that suited them better. You can’t have it all was my thought after I dropped the call. You can imagine my surprise when I saw these same couple walk into the church where I had a couple I was covering also. But my surprise turned to shock when I saw a photographer manipulating a photo camera and video camera on different eye at he same time. He was panting from running after the couple and trying to get in front of these couple. So they settled for these jack of all trade cos maybe he charged them a third of what I did? Nice.

Four months later, they were in my studio yesterday for enquiries again but this time, of a different nature. They want to know if I have anything with them in it during the church service while we were covering our client that same day cos their photographer bungled everything and can’t find anything useful. Now call me anything u’ll want to call me but I got them to hire a wedding gown and we had a studio shoot where we produced their enlargements from and I charged them dearly for everything I gave them.

Moral of the story! Let a pro with a proven record or two handle your case so you don’t have to pay twice to get the same job done. Enobong signing out

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Jack of all Trade

 

 

 

 

The Princess and I

Evi, a Course mate and friend in my department back in school was a friend of Tochi, my bride in this post.  Tochi, as I used to see back then was a quiet girl and the few times we met a ‘hello-hi’ thing was the most we ever got to, she had this buddy of hers named Ona and a whole bunch of lawyers wanna be female friends.
A leap in time to 2012 Evi called me and told me that Tochi was getting married and that she has giving her my number so we could talk coverage. My first thought was ‘woow niceee’. A few days later I got a call from Tochi and it went thus:
Tochi: Bassey hello, good day
Me: Hello who’s this please’
Tochi: ‘Its Tochi from UNEC, Evi gave me your number’
Me: Hey!!! Tochi been a while how you doing?
Tochi: am fine and planning my wedding that’s why I called to know how you can cover it’
Me: ‘Yeah, Evi mentioned it’
…and the talk continued
With time we had selected the package that suited her, please lest I forget, Tochi as a lawyer works in a bank so you can imagine negotiations with a banking barrister. Believe me, you are not going to have your way because there’ll be lots of reviews, amendments and protocols that comes from merging those two sectors. If at the end you both come out smiling, then be sure you can negotiate in a hostage situation.
Her traditional was set for Isuochi in Abia state while the white was to be in Enugu and so she was worried how I was going to make it to them both from Port Harcourt. Travelling is one thing a photographer must come to terms with if he is to succeed at it. In this case I told Tochi not to worry her head that I had it covered.
A day before Tochi’s traditional, I made my way to Enugu to get my crew of “Iceman” (a UNN med science grad ) and Candid(a long time associate)and together we made our way to Isuochi the next day early morning. As usual, we stopped some place and had some breakfast and carried backup (mek person no go embarrass you cos say you asked for food for the marriage) believe me, experiences has taught us (photographers) better. Fortunately for me both guys are from Abia and so they knew the road real well. But the moment we got to Isuochi, getting to Tochi’s house was a whole different matter; it was like we were explorers setting out to discover new territories, at a point we had to stop and waited for someone to pass so we could ask if there were still houses ahead. We finally got there and were surprised at the houses hidden deep along that path (sorry road). We got into their sitting room and Tochi was there with her family and the first thing outta my mouth was ‘Tochi if you had told me your house was in the evil forest I would have been better prepared” to which the elderly women there tore up in laughter, her mum being one of them offered us all the local mede-mede (orishi-orishi) and we picked the ones our stomach was comfortable with and afterwards went to rest (don’t forget the road there was hazardous) so a 30 minutes time-out was necessary.
A funny thing happened prior to the traditional. Did I mention that Tochi’s husband to be ‘Ifeanyi’ wasn’t and isn’t in the country and so as negotiation goes, Tochi gave him my number so we could talk, she had mentioned it to me, so one bluish day, I received this call from a foreign number and it went thus:
Caller: ‘Mr. Bassey, how are you?’
Me: (weary of scammers who seem to have your details before calling you) ’look I don’t have energy or time for this right now, have a lovely day’ and with that I dropped the call (that was polite abi?, yeah I thought so too) and so he got back to Tochi and she got through to me and when I explained to her what I thought, we had a laugh, and the following day Ifeanyi called again and after my apology, we discussed business which basically was to cement what his banking lawyer fiancée had laid on ground.
So we got to work and through the activities of the day I finally met Ifeanyi, got to know that Tochi is a princess, and some other minor details. Yeah, it was beautiful and the proceedings went on as planned, we got back and regrouped for the white wedding.
On the day of her white wedding, I had a minor emergency that took me out of town, but I had reliable hands that covered for me (Iceman and ND. Candid was engaged) and so I missed all the actions and when I returned, I went straight to the reception and continued from the order of photographs and the reception proper. Now, just so I don’t forget the couple are both LIONS (sexy right) please if you haven’t a clue as to what I mean, my email is here somewhere, contact me. The reception was the “IT”, Ifeanyi hasn’t a single dance bone in him and so Tochi was doing it for two and she handled it pretty well. After the wedding proper, they had this big circle and one in the center dance thing; I mean it was awesome and fun.
The next day, the couple came for their post wedding studio shoot with their wedding outfit and the Monday after that they took off to Lagos and left me to sort things out. Now, let me analyze this; the makeup artist and the hair stylist have finished their job and it’s over with. The event deco people and cake have concluded and forgotten it all; the food and drinks people that took most of your cash have long gone and its been turned to waste. All your guest are looking up for the next big thing and ur wedding no matter how grand can only generate gossip for two weeks top . I am the last man standing, the outcome of my job is your only reminder of the event of that day and some people would want to pay me peanuts because a point and shoot guy somewhere told you he could cover your wedding for so and so much. Abegi, carry go give am and spend the rest of your life regretting it
Now, to my Tochi’s case, her photobook was a different order from the usual and so it took slightly longer to work out but when it finally came out, it was a nice piece and had to be sent to her family in Isuochi, so they could see it and then her brother who was on visit would take it to Lagos for her. While in Isuochi her mum called me and was gushing how beautiful the job was and that she will ensure I cover her son’s own too. Now, that was the highlight of the job because there’s just nothing exciting as a well satisfied client, she even ordered an enlargement shot for her husband “THE IGWE” and to top the icing on the cake, Tochi’s brother was a referral to another job I got in Isuochi. I will conclude with a quote from JAMES CASH PENNY ‘The well satisfied customer will bring the repeat sale that count.’

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why PHOTOGRAPHY

Yeah, why photography they all asked and are still asking, so am going to set the record straight and with a Nigerian attitude, (question for question), let me ask, why engineering, law or better yet why politics and I bet your answer will be cos it pays. Now that will make me smile because I know youve lost it and that a few years down the lane, youll be bored and miserable if its just for the cash.
Now ask 2face idibia why he started singing and still does, or ask Michael Jordan why basketball even when he didnt make his high school team, these men wouldnt tell you its because of the money they started it, they saw something they loved and something that gave them peace and they drove and matured in it. Now, that maturity made them talented in their act and as it built so did their passion and with time they saw and knew they could be paid for their talents and shazaaam money starts flowing and with ease.
So ask me again Why Photography and my reply, Ask Messi why football.
I remember as a boarding teen in a unity secondary school the high expectation of having to wait days for the school photographer (cant recall his name) to finish his roll of 36 exposure films and then visit the print lab before we got our pictures was always too much. The guy actually got tired of us crowding him every day with “is it out yet” (remember the movie ARE WE THERE YET now imagine Ice Cubes frustrations with those kids and youll get the gist)
Now fast forward to a few months after my NYSC POP, my dad (a retired NNPC staff) and a passionate photographer (currently) approached me and said “you mustnt always practice what you studied” or something like that. Since I had studied geoinformatics from the only Nigerian University (haters silence pls), I agreed with him to start a photo print lab and studio. The man thought his convincing skills were excellent not knowing I went with him because of my love for photography
My Love for photography blossomed in the print lab and studio because the pictures that passed through us daily tells the story of happenings in the state and I could tell when it was mothers/fathers day, when there was a national day celebrations and holidays, coronations and title ceremonies in different communities, different church festivities and activities, openings and closing of different schools, matriculation and graduation of universities, NYSC camps orientations and POPs, burials, new birth, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries were a regular. The power of photography demonstrated here in the recording / capturing preserving of all these images was simply amazing and right there I knew it was either this or going to the moon (its unfortunate we dont have a space program in Nigeria). So now you know
Again if you ask me why photography, I’ll tell you that at a wedding, the couple is my friend and am allowed access to their private lives for a few days, the new born is entrusted to me to hold and place safely for a shoot, the model youre scared to talk to respects and trust my judgments to pose and capture her well. That family you cant see through their tinted cars and high fences lower their guard and security and allow me into their homes for a family session. The hotel you see in TV and magazine adverts are where am invited to handle conferences and shows, that lovely spot you drive by are where my pre wedding photo shoots take place, that street that you speed by and windup your glasses, trust me I dont go there with my equipment unless on escorted request. My passport to these places is just my Camera and professionalism
So ask me again why photography and I will relate to you the captured joy and pride of the parents of a new birth child, the excitement and smiles of families during a wedding, the cockiness and attitude of a model wannabe during a shoot, the expectations of an artist at his album photo shoot, the sorrows and sadness of family and friends at the burial of a loved one. The list goes on and on each occasion, I pause the moment FOREVER using my passport.
Take a full minute and picture a world without me and my colleagues and with that being said, pardon me to draw the curtain with this question Why not Photography?

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