During the closing ceremony of the 2023 seventh edition of the Abuja Photo Festival, stakeholders emphasized the importance of adopting photo storytelling as a strategy to combat the proliferation of fake news. They conveyed this message in conversations with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
In the ever-evolving landscape of information dissemination in the digital age, these stakeholders urged the government to take a more active interest in the sub-sector of the creative industry centered around photo storytelling. They asserted that it is crucial for all levels of government to deliberately involve photographers in promoting their programs and developments as a means to counter the menace of fake news and misinformation.
Aisha Augie-Kuta, a Photographer and Creative Artist at the Center of Art and Photography, underlined the significance of how the government presents its stories. She noted that in the past, government spaces lacked the presence of photographers, resulting in limited public awareness of their activities. However, today, visual proof in the form of photos has become essential to make government initiatives and achievements more visible and appreciated. Whether in the context of health policies, sports, creative and cultural sectors, or infrastructure, photos offer the swiftest and most effective way to convey these narratives.
Ibrahim Bassi shared a personal example of how photography could challenge prevailing narratives. He mentioned his recent trip to Maiduguri, where he captured images and videos that contradicted the negative portrayals of the region. Through the power of visual media, people were able to see a different perspective from what they had previously encountered in the news. He stressed that photography played a pivotal role during the last election and the ENDSARS protests, effectively narrating stories to those who were not physically present.
Emphasizing the impact of technology, Bassi highlighted the ease with which photos can be manipulated and distorted. Therefore, he advocated for the serious consideration of photo storytelling as a means to promote positive narratives and mutual understanding in the country.
Osaze Efe, the curator and creative director of the festival, described the annual event as a platform for young talents to explore their path in the world of photography. He believed that photo news serves as a potent tool for driving positive social change and called for the encouragement of young Nigerians to venture into photojournalism, sparking their interest in the arts and photography.
Efe explained that the festival’s core mission is to use photography to address pressing social issues, such as electricity problems and the challenges faced by visually impaired children who still pursue an education. The festival also showcases photos related to human rights and solar energy solutions, highlighting the electricity challenges in Nigeria and how solar energy is positively impacting local communities and economies. These photo stories are intended to provoke questions, open doors for dialogue, and inspire viewers to take actions that improve society.
The festival featured the works of seasoned artists, including Ashia Audu, Hakeem Salaam, George Osodi, Ukandi Atsu, Fatima Yusuf, Ene Inalegwu, and Jackie Ore, among others, demonstrating the power of photography in addressing critical social issues.