[Nigeria, you are crazy]
After years of planning and construction, Abuja officially became Nigeria’s capital in 1991, replacing the role of the previous capital, Lagos. Physically located in the centre of the country and viewed as neutral both ethnically and religiously, Abuja is an entirely purpose-built city.
The site for the new capital was chosen not only because of its central location and low population density ‘in the middle of nowhere’ but also for the availability of land for future expansion. Abuja has since experienced huge population growth. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the world – according to the UN, Abuja grew at the rate of 139.7% between 2000 and 2010 – its rapid urbanisation has transformed the region indiscriminately.
Due to its explosive growth, the city is sprawling massively into the countryside. With satellite towns emerging and settlements being developed, Abuja is growing over villages that once were located at its fringes. These “urban villages” or “villages within the city” in Abuja are the remaining indigenous settlements, which have survived and persisted after over three decades of compulsory acquisition, resettlement, demolition exercises, and trading of land on the open market. They are scatterings of rural areas, squatter settlements and “slums” in the midst of the planned city with its towering skyscrapers, modern infrastructures, and other urban constructions.
The photo series travels from Lagos to Abuja finding images that resonate like memories between Nigeria’s most modern, planned urban centre and the villages that persist in the shadow of affluence.