Dayo Adedayo, an inventive British trained photographer is one of the world’s best in the world of photography with many laurels to his credit. He is a Nigerian with undying passion to tell the good story about his country to the world. In pursuing his career and dream for the Nation, Adedayo has not only traversed through the entire 774 local governments in the country, but also virtually all the continents of the world, yet he is not relenting in showcasing Nigeria to the world through his lens. In this interview with Remi Oladoye, the author of a compendium , Nigeria 2.0 and an award winning photographer who shot the picture in the best selling ovation magazine; See Dubai and die, expresses optimism about Nigeria and how he intend to sell Nigeria to the world through pictures.
Sir you’ve filmed Nigeria, why did you choose to do that?
I studied photography and in my line of business , I tried as much as possible to do what is right, what is to be I did not study photography to do social photography alone In course of my study I tried to look for pictorial books on Nigeria and its quite unfortunate that there is none, nothing at all so I just took it upon myself why don’t I go out and do something and I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, that was it and since then it has blossom into so many other things, on the international passport of Nigeria, all the pictures on it are my work, the N100 Naira note which I think is the highest honour given to me or given to any artist because if you spend the currency that means everybody is carrying your work, what ,made me to do it was because there is nothing on Nigerian in term of pictography that anybody has done, there could be snippet and smaller pieces but there is nothing until I came out with my book
Were you able to capture everything into the book?
Virtually everything, I have been to all the 774 local governments, we can capture everything its absolutely impossible. You cant put everything inside a book, we are working on our third edition where everything you may find at the third edition, at the moment we can’t because it will be too bulky and because its pictorial I want people to salivate to enjoy the pictures to see if not the picture will be too tiny and will not be able to relish the beauty of the place. To me that is what I am given back to Nigeria, Nigeria trained me I was given birth in this country what else can I do in this Nigeria, not all of us will be politicians but whatever space you find yourself try as much as much as possible to serve Nigeria, if you are a journalists write good things about Nigeria, if you are a doctor make yourself known to the rest of the world, if you are an Engineer , there are many things that are not right interims of engineering try to creative and I am trying to creative in my little way..
How long did it took you to put Nigeria 2.0 together
Nigeria 2.0 took me 11 years, so there is no Local government I have not been to and I drove myself all through
What are the challenges?
In term of the challenges I will say infrastructure generally in some places you raise about, the most beautiful site in Nigeria is the Mambila plateau to me there is no hotel room, nowhere to sleep, so it was struggle and I drove myself all the way to mambila , I have to sleep in the open . generally its more of infrastructure and people are fantastic, Nigerians are one of the most hospitable people you can meet anywhere in the world , to me that matters a lot and to me that is what we don’t tell the rest of the world, how hospitable we are, how accommodating we can be , even within Nigeria marrying into another tribe they takes care of the foreigner more than their own and that is the way we have been relating, it’s a fantastic story
When it come to reading books do not seems and appreciating art work , Nigerians seems to have less interest, in your own case is it encouraging
I don’t believe that, that is narrating but I don’t belief it the way my brain is wired is different, what I see is all challenges to me are opportunities, I am not looking at 180million people to buy my books, if that happens oh, I wil be too happy but having said that there are too many people in this country who want to know Nigeria, who want to see Nigeria but do not have the opportunity of seeing it and that is where I comes in and that is where the media comes in as well, both still images and moving images interms of video, interms of the entertainment industry having their musicals instead of going abroad to shoot, there are so many places in Nigeria, lets forget about infrastructural deficit, that can never be fix for ever, there will always be problem somewhere but we are going to start from somewhere, to me there are a lot of people who can read in Nigeria and they are willing and ready and they are in their millions so if millions can read all we need to do is for government is to go into education which is another topic on its own because for me government should be spending fifty percent of its budget on education, with that you will fix your infrastructures deficit immediately because an educated man will always be creative where there are all these area boys and people begging for money is because of lack of education, I mean I was lucky to have education , if I have my compatriots to have the kind of education that I have then the country should be better for it because the economy should be knowledge driven not by selling commodities all over the place
Nigeria is endowed with humongous tourism potentials yet we are suffering in spite of the abundance of the gift, what do you think is wrong and how do you think it can be corrected
We are suffering because people are not creative, to me its not about what can government do, government can only create an enabling environment, its just that citizen should key in, we say there is no money in Nigeria, everywhere you look into in the country today whether north, east, south or west, all the service industry are being taking over by foreigners, the Lebanese, the Asians and we Nigerians are here and still complaining what is our problem so to me it got nothing to do with the government, it got to do with us as Nigerians because we are use to free money, we are use to corruption, everybody is spending from the corruption money not doing anything just visiting someone doing something with the intention of taking something, we are use to that and we feel that is the way that should be but to me the is the best time to make money in Nigeria because there is nothing in the market at the moment, there is infrastructural deficit but the low hanging fruits that can take a lot of people out of unemployment is juts all over there and in tourism , tourism can easily take 10,20 million people off the street and the beauty of tourism is that money stays in the localty, you cant come into Badagry now spend your money in Badagry and they will take your money to Abuja, no, the money stays in Badagry, some belongs to the local and state government but the remnant stays in the hand of the people in Badagry, so for me tourism can easily employ million of people but then we need to be creative
How affordable and available are you books
They are very affordable, everything is subjective in life, interm of pricing its very very affordable we have the lowest standard and we have the highest standard and its very affordable
Lets have an insight into your background
I studied photography, five years of my live and that is what I have been doing for nearly 30 years I freelance for ovation Magazine and the best selling edition of the magazine See Dubai and die in 2002 or 3, I didn’t remember the date, so ovation actually open up Dubai to the rest of the country and when I was freelancing for ovation another things it did was to open up Nigerians , the northerners are very conservative people now the conservatism is no longer there anymore, everybody is now using Aso Ebi gele and all the rest having huge celebrations, those are part of the things I’ve done, my camera have captured, people have seen my work but they don’t know it was me , people just go to dubai if you have the international passport its my work, I have worked with several blue chips company in the country, most of the oil companies are my clients, I have done several things, all photography , I don’t go outside it and I thank God and my parent who are able to put me through because without them, I am not be whom I am today and I thank Nigeria for giving me the opportunity to be born in a countries where there are a lot of opportunities for me explore and to the younger ones Nigeria is the world best keep secrete, whatever you want to do, 200 million people you don’t need all of them, all you need , 10,000 customers which is a lot selling a product for two thousand Naira, your arithmetic, you are home and dry
Of all the jobs you have done , which one is your best so far
My best work so far is really subjective actually, my best work so far is Nigeria 2.0 and because that is what is in the market at the moment but in terms of other documentary work that I have done I will say cremation which was done when I was in the university about how they cremate dead bodies , I don’t know what came upon me to think about it and for the first time I saw a lot of dead bodies going into the burning chambers coming out as nothing so philosophically life is ephemeral, there is nothing, you are there today tomorrow you may be no more, even within seconds , I will say that is my best and my best picture is in my house now which I took in Badagry by the seaside, it just finish raining, so the rumble and the tumble of the sea coming towards me cloud everything all the colours shapes form into one image , I love it so much
Not even the See Dubai and die pictures and other beautiful shots
No see dubai and die and others are not, there are so many works and like we were though when we were doing our photography works back in school days, you last work is your best job I am thinking of Nigeria 3.0 now and its going to blew everybody’s mind away because all local government in Nigeria will be represented , its going to be very heavy, not what just anybody can carry about, if you are buying it has to be delivered to you because its weight about 50kg, there is a lot of work for me the brain is working , all I wanna do is just for people to see Nigeria, in Nigeria you talked about 419 and all the rest but that is not my Nigeria but the Nigeria that I have seen is the beauty, just like having a woman at homes, most of us do not value our wives but the moment they stepped out of the house people will be chasing them and that is what is happening to Nigeria and the best analogy I can give is like calling your mother a witch, by the time you get to the market place and started calling your mother a witch people will run away from your mum and it will get to a point they will started running away from you as a son of a witch and that is what we are doing to Nigeria , people are going abroad, to Europe, America, Asian and every part of the world because they don’t see the beauty in Nigeria, the truth of the matter is by the time you get to your destination you will be missing Nigeria but when you are in Nigeria you are tired of Nigeria so who is going to develop Nigerian for us, America was developed by Americans, Europe by Europeans so Nigerians should be develop by Nigerians and Africa by Africans that is the way I am seeing it, the opportunity are there and visually we’ve not started and that is why I am coming in as a photographer, we don’t know ourselves , we don’t know our country, through my visuals if the truth can be sold to the rest of the world about Nigeria, what are Nigerians doing in Dubai, the desert safari where there are deserts in Borno Kano Jigawa, full of desert, the citizens are not aware of the potentials of those things , why are there no light in the northern Nigeria still beats me when there is harvest of winds in Kastina, the sun in Borno will make you dark no matter how fair you are in complexion, we can annex with alternative energy so for me those are the opportunity I am seeing and those are the things that is pushing me beyond the ordinary for me to say I am going beyond the lens to show my country and if I make money in the process so be it
Lastly Sir, without photography what would you have been doing sir
I would have been an artist may be nollywood actor , I came to early, during my days there was nothing like that, I was very active in my secondary school days even as at now people still call me a jester because I am never a serious person, I will never be a serious person and I will die not been a serious person, because if you take life too serious then something is wrong with you and that is the way I see life is for the living enjoy it while it last and leave a mark that is very important, let us make Nigeria better than we met it for the generation coming behind us to say some people pass through this place and this is what they’ve done.