We were saddened to hear of the passing of Nigerian photographer JD Okhai Ojeikere on February 2 after a brief illness (we've featured his work on the blog before). Ojeikere was known for his striking black and white images, encompassing over 1000 photographs of women's hairstyles and head ties (popularly known as gele) unique to Nigeria. His famous series Hairstyles was displayed as part of the 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia last year. Ojeikere was born in Ovbiomu, Edo State in 1930. He bought his first camera - a Brownie D - in 1950 and began his formal career as a darkroom assistant at the Ministry of Information in Ibadan. After independence, he worked at Television House and for the West Africa Publicity agency in Lagos. He eventually opened his own studio - Foto Ojeikere - and also joined the Nigerian Arts Council (now the National Council for Arts and Culture) through which he organised festivals to promote artistic activities across the country.
He began the Hairstyles series in 1968, struck by the creativity he saw during his travels across Nigeria, and amassed a stunning collection of photographs which captured the elegant and creative "sculptures for a day" worn by Nigerian women. His first exhibitions, however, did not take place until the late 1990s - a solo exhibition in Nigeria and a group one in Switzerland. His work - like that of other African photographers such as Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta of Mali - used the power of the camera to "record moments of beauty, moments of knowledge" and showcase the sophistication and modernity of the continent. Ojeikere's photographs are a vital documentation of our history and culture. [slideshow_deploy id='2779'] We extend our condolences to his family and friends and celebrate his inspiring achievements. WATCH Ojeikere speak about his approach to photography and how his work was first shown in the video below: http://youtu.be/OMJd20AsOX8?t=6m50s