Emmanuel Iduma wanted to write about the Senegal River and its tributaries as well as the people who lived along its banks. So, he visited a number of African cities, to get a feel of the people and the environs. In some cases, he travelled alone while in other cases he did so as part of a rotating group of photographers, visual artists and writers, courtesy of the Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers’ Organization. Then he put down fragments of his experience together with his reflections and made it into this beautifully written travelogue.strangers to a lone traveller.
Publisher(s): Cassava Republic Press
Genre(s): Non-Fiction. Travelogue.
Rating: 5/5 stars.
“Every tree is the opposite of wandering”.Emmanuel Iduma – “A Stranger’s Pose”
The book is made up of seventy-six short, punchy, poetic and untitled chapters. I like the fact that the title of the book captures its essence outrightly . In keeping with the style of writing, it raises the salient but unvoiced question that runs through out the book: “What is the place of a stranger in a city?”
The writing style is experimental and deeply evocative. At first, I didn’t quite know what to make of the non-linear timeline. But it grew on me and in time, I actually started to enjoy it. The disjointed stories effect enhanced the artistic vibe I believe the author was hoping to achieve.
Each chapter is set in a different city. There are vibrant, graphic descriptions of the people, lifestyle and culture obtainable each place being spotlighted. From Khartoum to Nouakchott; N’djamena to Lome; Douala to Casablanca, the reader is an invisible witness the interactions between the author and the locals.
Often paired with his well considered reflections, the author’s observatory skills examine the intricacies of everyday life through the banalities of a mundane life vis-a-vis the exciting moments. Sometimes, he includes a variety of monochrome photographs which more often than not, are accompanied by very detailed image descriptions.
“The Ocean is the world, without partition and division, only depth and expanse. Because of its depth, it serves as a burial place. So, if you point a camera at a mass of water, you get an opaque representation, of gods and languages and objects and songs, everything thrown in with bodies from the West African coast. The opacity of the sea is therefore, its rich, dangerous promise. Some will drown, some will reach harbor.Emmanuel Iduma – “A Stranger’s Pose”
In some parts of Kidira and Rabat, Emmanuel encounters a good number of migrants stuck in various unpleasant circumstances in their bid to enter Europe illegally via Trans-Saharan routes. This was the saddest part of the book and I reflected on the plight of these people for days; even after I finished reading.
Other unpleasant encounters he encountered had to do with accomodation, language barriers and how the inability to obtain travel permits can frustrate a traveller’s movement.
A Stranger’s Pose is a melting pot of both visual and written forms of art. It celebrates the role of a photographer in preserving identity and culture by freezing time and capturing moments. More importantly, it taught me that creating memories is a means of expressing love and committment; first to oneself, then to others. So, I hope you can see why I can’t recommend it enough.
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