Mudi Yahaya - Nigeria

Musée National du Mali

For Crown and Country (2011)

Mudi Yahaya’s series of photographs entitled For Crown and Country acknowledges the inconsistencies and slippages between actual events, layers of collective memory and dominant narratives in the history of Nigeria. Combining found archival photographs with contemporary landscape images shot in Northern Nigeria, the artist uses photography to restage meetings between British and Nigerian powers, thereby questioning the ways in which memories and truths are visually constructed.

Since the British colonial occupation, leading to the unification of the northern and southern protectorates to form Nigeria in 1914, fraught socio-political relations between North and South have led to differing accounts of the past. Christianity, Islam, colonizer and colonized, education and economics, have all been instrumental in forming perspectives from which to remember and retell the country’s history. In For Crown and Country Yahaya brings together these interlinking references. In a cemetery in Zungeru, once an operational headquarters of the British colonial army, white crosses jut out from the tombs and are haunted by the roaming figures of Northern dignitaries and British colonial officers. In Jos, the site of an old tin mine stages the choreographed posturing and pleasantries be- tween the two sides, yet their handshakes belie the untold consequences of colonial contracts for the extraction of natural resources.

Returning to sites that were the scenes of defining events in the formation of Nigeria, Yahaya invokes the power of the landscape in recalling the past, positioning nature as the enduring witness of human exploit. For Crown and Country is thus as much a study of individual actors as it is an investigation into the role of photography in colonialism’s insidiousrule.

Mudi Yahaya born in 1968 in Kano, Nigeria –
Lives in Lagos

Institut Français
Ministère de la Culture de l’Artisanat et du Tourisme du Mali