genuine, and God knows I wanted to take a break from all the brightly lit studio photos everyone’s been sharing on social media, HBD’s Hbd’s Hbd’s!
His name is Shaibu Hamza Olobo, a traveller, a photographer and aspiring filmmaker, who decided he will visit each one of the 36 states of Nigeria. He posts the photos and sometimes short video clips of his adventures under the handle @officialolobo on Instagram. I came upon his profile by chance, while I was leaping from one hashtag to another. It was in April that he made the announcement his ‘road trip’ has began.
Photo credit @officialolobo
The photos he took carry depth and meaning, mostly covering travel and people’s livelihoods. I quickly became personally attached to his work and ardently followed his journey every step of the way on the social platform, until the day came when he was visiting Bauchi, my very own Bauchi.
Of course I was excited and all, I sent a DM right away, and he replied a couple hours later. We met the following the day of his arrival. The car that was supposed to bring him took a detour to Jamaica or something I think, it took longer than I anticipated, because where he stayed was a walking distance from my place of residence (mostly my grandfather’s though because he owns the house). So I waited a bit and they arrived with a friend of his whom was also his host in Bauchi.
I was infinitely glad to meet him, it was as if he was a representative of all the states in the country and I just met that person. A few years older than me sporting an unkempt beard, but I guess travel has its eccentricities. We introduced ourselves properly and planned to go out two days after, on a fishing trip to Gubi dam.
It was a Friday and we didn’t get ready for the trip until it was too late to go fishing, the sun will soon set and besides, the weather was cloudy, we picked up another friend on the way and went to the dam anyways. When we got there I was mesmerized by the sight, Gubi dam truly was beautiful, I liked seeing the expanse of water in front of me. The truth is I have heard so much about the dam, schooled a few kilometres from it but never got around to visiting it until then. All three of them set to work setting up their equipment and apparatus, apparently all three were photographers.
For the next half hour or so they talked photography terms; exposure, lighting, Canon, lens, burst, the words flew out of their mouths easily, but thank God for the internet I wasn’t lost in the conversation even though I kept mute most of the time. I have once spent an inordinate amount of time learning about this very profession I wasn’t going to go into.
Soon I was holding mini tripods and big camera lenses as they shot away. Olobo decided to take a picture of himself in the water, he invited us to join him, the others were reluctant to get wet but I of course wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to play with water, so I joined him.
We went into the shallows knee deep where a rock stood out like a small mountain from the water around it, and then we did his signature move, we jumped. We jumped from the rock and back into the shallows while the others snapped our pictures. He was fun, witty, silly and jovial, but he thought I was sillier. In one or several of the pictures we held the Nigerian flag above our heads and jumped, this is about as patriotic as I have ever been in my life.
Jumping off little mountains with Olobo at Gubi Dam
When we came back to the lake’s shoreline it was in Siberia, I was devastatingly cold. We drove to a different location and they took a couple more photos before it really started to get dark. We huddled in the car and left for home. I remember before doing that our conversation stirring towards something about Yoruba girls. Anyway, we chatted the rest of the way home and I learnt quite a lot about Olobo, the books he likes reading, his missing out on a lot of movies (I can’t believe someone hasn’t watched any of the Avenger’s movies), his appetite for food, and actually his sisters went to the same secondary school I graduated from in Abuja.
I learnt that he has been featured in many news sites and television shows, and even quite recently (a few weeks after he left Bauchi) he spoke in a TEDx talk in ABU Zaria his alma mater, about his travels and experiences. He believes the current picture of Nigeria grossly undermines the beautiful parts of the country, it gives only one point of view and foreigners from the outside would think Nigeria is one hellish landscape, Olobo is determined to change that, he wants to document as much as he can all the good places, people and cultures he comes across this journey, and show the world a new perspective, a broader truer perspective of Nigeria that is left out of the picture.
Photo from Olobo's Instagram
Photo from Olobo's adventures in Bauchi
They dropped me off at home somewhere around seven at night. I was really happy with how my day went, and meeting someone so determined, with a great purpose and full of life is a great thing. Olobo posts all about his journey in his personal website Olobo.ng. At the time of his arrival in Bauchi he has travelled 9 states of the country, starting from Niger state, he’s visited Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna and Bauchi.
A man of Kogi state origin from a place called Igalamela, Hamza Olobo is a walking monument to me, he has visited museums, historical sites, archaeological sites, mausoleums, tourist destinations and palaces, and he lived simply around the common people of the states he has been to.
I was really glad of the meeting with this remarkable photographer, it was invigorating and honestly, I am the worst tour guide.
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