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, born and raised in Nigeria, is the author of The Sound of Things to Come. He co-edited Gambit: Newer African Writing. His essays on art and photography have been published widely. He is editor of Saraba Magazine, and a faculty member of the MFA Art Writing program at the School of Visual Arts, New York. His travelogue, A Stranger's Pose, is forthcoming in 2018.