Cover Photo: The National Archives UK/flickr/images provided by author
The National Archives UK/flickr/images provided by author

The Colonizer’s Archive is a Crooked Finger: A Photo Essay

“Colonial photography perpetually assaulted what became the Nigerian body.”

As strangers, we are bound to a collective fate. The world is a storehouse for all the names and gestures we share. Occasionally it stretches beyond its bounds. My future replaced your past; my present is backdated until yours arrives. Time is shuffled.

you have cut short your lifeI received an assignment from God!

What I know about the dead, I imagine.

All those to whom I entrust the meaning of my life, its promise, its secret ambitions and unnamable longings: They are contraband. I smuggle them into my heart, my hands folded in prayer: “Stay with me.”

in spite of






Lovers know this, but often need to be reminded: No desire is misplaced. As a river knows itself a tributary, so desire travels, surrendering, undulating.

whatfor what?

What I know of the dead, I imagine.

Emmanuel Iduma is the author of A Stranger’s Pose, a book of travel stories, and The Sound of Things to Come, a novel. Born and raised in Nigeria, his stories and essays on art appear frequently in journals, magazines, artists’ books, and exhibition catalogues. He received a 2017 Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation grant in arts writing, and is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts, New York.