When he is taking the footage that has set him apart as a documentary filmmaker, Dafe Oboro’s lenses focus on the intricacies of everyday life as a Nigerian and what it means to be young in the world’s most populous black nation.
The 22-year old visual storyteller was born in the bustle of Lagos.
While in school, his interests, as with most young boys in that phase, fluttered between fields. He wanted to be a designer at some point, he would draw the thin bodied sketches we have come to associate with such designers.
He dropped that pursuit, but as he tells DAZED in a recent interview, the sketches he gifted to his younger sister were the seeds of her own career in fashion.
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From Lagos, Dafe moved on to the field of storytelling for which he is now enjoying attention, or to put it more specifically, he moved to the United Kingdom to study Broadcast Journalism.
Dafe made his first splash into public consciousness with a project he made while still at school.
Telling True Stories
2016’s “Slum Dwellers: Not Dead, Not Living” was a short documentary which focused on the human cost of destroying slums in a nation that is becoming a by-word for overcrowded cities and poor urban planning.
The film was named a Runner-Up at the Amnesty Media Awards in the UK that year, going away with top honours for best documentary at the Nottingham Micro-Festival.
Since then, he’s worked on a collaboration between photographer Nadine Ijewere, stylist Ibrahim Kamara and fabled designer Stella McCartney as well as the young Nigerian designer and frequent collaborator, Mowalola Ogunlesi.
Last year, he was featured on the “Creative Class of 2018” , a list by A NASTY BOY magazine which highlighted 40 African creatives upsetting the status quo.
His new documentary, “Boy, you’re beautiful” continues in the tone of previous work, by exploring masculinity among young Nigerians, traditional and moral values, and what extents on the spectrum are being acknowledged.
In "Kilo shele gan gan", he draws from 70s/80s when Psychedelic Rock enjoyed brief polularity in Nigeria.
Because sensitivities have swept certain topics beneath the carpet and certain stories are considered too rough to tell, the importance of innovative storytellers cannot be overstated.
As with most misunderstood societies, Nigeria and the diverse cultures of its people have been simplified into simple misconceptions that are seen as conservative, religious and financially corrupt.
Truth and Perspective
It has created a need for storytellers who can tell the stories beneath the 3-minute ads, the unrealistic web series, music videos and photo ops.
That charge has been taken on by a generation of young creatives both at home and in the diaspora.
Across various formats, through their words, music and films, they are telling more nuanced perspectives of Nigeria.
Much of this, like Dafe’s “Slum Dwellers: Not Dead, Not Living”, shines the light on life for the millions who do not show up in drone shots that soar over Victoria Island and Lekki, the disadvantaged people the world has heard too much of but Nigeria tries to blur out of sight.
They also address topics on the less tangible social constructs like sexuality, identity, belief systems, alternative lifestyles and trauma.
Subjects like these have been suppressed for years, with an addendum claiming that most of what the West calls progress is actually taboo in our society.
This reality is confronted by a generation not burdened with such limitations.
In a world where borders are crossed by electronic signals, what they do is becoming more important than ever.