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Timeless lenses: A newspaper’s visual journey through Nigeria

Timeless lenses: A newspaper’s visual journey through Nigeria
March 03
16:56 2024

An exciting journey into the heart of Punch Nigeria Limited would naturally commence from Mangoro, the suburban Lagos area from where it started operation, and end up at Magboro, a burgeoning new development area in Ogun state.

Between its birthplace where it spent 36 years and the Magboro permanent site, which is its befitting and edifying complex of the last 16 years, is where Punch newspaper’s exhilarating journey through Nigeria of the last 50 years was nurtured.
For a good reason, both locations play an important role in telling the visually-engaging story of this dominant quality newspaper, which is celebrating its 50 years of operation.

This commemorative photographic exhibition therefore captures various snapshots of history that PUNCH has served its numerous readers as a socially-conscious and people-oriented news organisation over the years.
The 50 works on display at this exhibition, along with several others that can be viewed on PUNCH website, underscore the newspaper’s enchanting connect to social relevance topically and how photo news serves as an integral part of good journalism.

At the centre of this collection are recurrent issues in Nigeria of the past half a century; the variegated emotions constantly on display showing on the one hand, the mood of the nation, and on the other hand, how PUNCH attaches importance to how they are captured.
These exhibits are as candid and thematically relevant as they can be; given their essence as functional photo journalism and indeed as work of insightful creativity.

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In this exhibition, the viewer will encounter socially- relevant issues that have refused to go away for decades.
Issues that were as relevant in the 1970s and ’80s as they are relevant today.
There are images of dilapidated schools and collapsed buildings. Images of flooding, protests and police brutality.
Images of poverty and lack; of deprivation and desperation.

Yet, there are images of hope and humanity, of people and power brokers; activists and intellectuals and the causes they are seen to have championed over time.

Devoid of bias and drama, this exhibition invokes quiet contemplation and reflections, either in appreciating shots that project awe and universal beauty; or in encountering polarised realities of sadness and joy; losses and victories, anguish and celebration and sometimes carnage or carnivals.

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Social realism is a constant point of reference, which underpins the type of discourses that photo journalists and editors go through daily, either on the field or in the newsroom, in selecting original photographs that are published for public consumption.

Events and accidents are on display!
So are notable individuals.
From the late Afrobeat singer, Fela Anikulapo-kuti to the late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi; or from the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka to politician and activist Omoyele Sowore, and even from political power brokers like the late billionaire businessman, Chief MKO Abiola and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, all of PUNCH titles have feasted on issues affecting personalities with huge following and the circles they courted.

They are all captured in this exhibition which is akin to the result of candid cameras on the society in general and everyday life.
Some of the exhibits, especially those in black and white, speak to the days of little beginning of PUNCH, when technology was at infancy and artificial enhancement of images was low if not totally non-existent.

We see images of the ‘old Punch’, the old, bare logo of the newspaper when it served as “entrances newspaper for lively minds”.
We also see the entrance leading into the old premises where Punch was born and with it great journalism in 1973.

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Veterans of the Punch alumni would reminisce, through this exhibit, about that buoyant enclave on Olu Aboderin Street (formerly Kudeti Street) Onipetesi, in Mangoro area of Lagos where dreams were made and careers formed.

In contrast, the all-coloured cover image of The PUNCH showing the new logo and current design of the newspaper, along with a couple of other images, highlights the beautiful product that the Magboro permanent site of the organisation has been churning out for more than 14 years.

And there are images of the founder of Punch, Chief Olu Aboderin, as a fitting tribute to his vision and legacy, exactly 40 years after his transition to eternal glory.

When journalists enthuse that ‘photo speaks’ or when people say ‘the picture speaks for itself’, these expressions are evident in this beautiful collection.
At its core is a celebration of great photographic skills as demonstrated by several of Punch’s photographers and reporters whose works are featured.

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Yet, this commemorative exhibition is an appreciation of great journalism and a well-deserved applause for a legacy of courage, character and candid views that have endured beyond 50 years.
May the lenses at The PUNCH never go blurred or cracked.

Steve Ayorinde, a former editor of The PUNCH, curated this exhibition for PUNCH Nig. Ltd

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