For years, Africa has suffered from what novelist Chimamanda Adichie refers to as "the single story" in her 2009 TED talk.
This Nigerian photographer is showcasing the incredible beauty of Africa
Enebeli Akose is using his photography skills to tackle the negative narrative concerning Nigeria and the rest of the continent.
This is the distorted, one-dimensional representation of the continent which is often characterised by health challenges, poverty, suffering, famine, hunger and dilapidated buildings.
This negative trend has particularly affected the travel and tourism industry which contributed a total of 8.1% to Africa's GDP ($177.6 billion) with 22 million jobs back in 2017, according to the second edition of the Hospitality Report by Jumia Travel.
Last year, it was ranked as the second least visited continent in the world but this could change with photographers like the talented Enebeli Akose.
Meet the Nigerian photographer showcasing Africa's beauty
Akose is an architect by day with a deep passion for photography and has been to several cities in Nigeria, Benin Republic, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda.
After three years of touring the continent, he recently put together his first solo travel photography exhibition. Through his lens, visitors got to see the continent in a totally different, beautiful light.
His pictures had guests spellbound with his picturesque, enthralling view of streets, artefacts, places in Nigeria and various parts of Africa. Some could be heard audibly arguing about how these pictures could compete with well-known tourist spots like New York and Paris.
According to Akose, this unbelievable beauty is exactly what he wishes more people knew about the continent.
"I think Nigeria and Africa are way more beautiful than most of us know. If we knew, I'm quite sure we'll celebrate ourselves and country a lot more," he told Business Insider SSA by Pulse.
Asked about the most beautiful places in Africa, he said, "One of the most beautiful places I've seen is Usuma dam in Bwari, Abuja. It is still one of my personal favourites. We can still do a lot to/with our tourism. I wrote to the Nigerian Tourism Development Agency for an opportunity to collaborate but it did not quite work out."
"I also loved Kenya because of their crafts; wood and stone works," he continued. "Rwanda is beautiful too, it's truly the land of a thousand hills."
Best thing about travelling across Africa
Akose tells us that our rich culture is the highlight of his trips.
"The best part about taking pictures across Africa is the exposure to a wide variety of cultures," he said. "Africa is really rich in culture; arts and craft too."
Worst thing about travelling
Taking pictures is the best and worst thing about travelling in Africa. The insecurity also doesn't help.
In his words, "There's some form of paranoia when people see you with a camera, they become aggressive and somewhat defensive (even when you're not taking pictures of them)."
"The worst thing about travelling in Nigeria is insecurity. My most memorable experience was when I almost got robbed in Ghana while taking pictures by midnight. I really wanted my exhibition to showcase a lot more of Nigeria, but I could not risk going to places like the north (I have never been to the north, Abuja does not count)."
He goes on to offer some advice on how the government can aid in travelling across Africa.
"This is also very simple; let us have our national carrier! I mean, other airlines have to come from their respective countries to come pick Nigerians to various destinations. If we had a Nigerian airline, the cost will be a lot cheaper and access to other countries will be higher (and vice versa)," Akose said.
Travelling tips from the travel expert
The skilled photographer has some tried and tested tips for travellers after visiting over nine countries in and out of Africa.
"Plan, plan your trip (I still suck at this because I just get up and go). If you are visiting a country look for neighbouring countries you can visit. It's best to kill two birds with one stone. Also travel light, if you can do hand luggage, it'll save you some stress," he advises.
The solution to Africa’s negative stereotype
Akose had this to say about changing the negative narrative about Nigeria and the rest of the continent.
In his words, "I think it's simple. Invest in tourism, improve safety and security. Also, show these beautiful cities and places. When you hear Lagos, what comes to mind is the yellow and black danfo buses. What happened to showing the beautiful beaches like ilashe and the likes. I hear Obudu cattle ranch is also beautiful."
"Do you know the Lekki Conservation Centre has the longest canopy walk in Africa? Yes, Africa. But we do not celebrate it! There is so much to talk about on this issue. I am a professional architect. The National Theatre, as old as it is, is still an architectural masterpiece! But do we celebrate it? No! I'll stop here, the list is endless. We just need to rebrand the country."
With photographers like Akose doing god's work by representing Africa as the beauty it really is, we finally stand a chance of changing the negative stereotype and improving travel and tourism industry.
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