Abubakar Sadiq Mustapha

These pictures were taken during the Kilisa Festival in Lapai Emirate of Niger state, which is celebrated twice a year to mark the five-day end of the Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr celebrations in the Emirate. By 10am on the last day of the Sallah celebration, the emir and his entourage of title holders, district heads, traditional musicians, magicians, hunters, masquerade men, tourists, and locals proceed to the historical grounds called Kilisa, located somewhere on the outskirts of the city. At the grounds are usually performances by musicians, hunters, drama groups, magicians, masquerades, and stick fighters, and paying of homage by members of the royal family, dignitaries, and title holders. After the performances, the emir and his entourage in colorful regalia ride on horseback around the city and finally to the emir’s palace, where the emir addresses the people. During the emir’s ride home there is usually a display by different groups on horseback, which is led by a traditional title holder or district head, as well as displays by hunters, magicians, stick fight by youthful Fulani men, and the masquerades known as Ndakogboya.

This photo series x-rays the life, culture, and history of ordinary people; from a disguised man wearing a multi-coloured turban, to an invisible young man whose face is covered in order to protect his master from the unseen evil of man and spirits, to the giant horsemen painted in blue, to a king who is much loved by his subjects.

Abubakar Sadiq Mustapha is a storyteller , a poet, and an art curator. He believes in the power of photography and how it can be used toward mental health. His work has appeared in the Ebedi Review, The Song Is, The Nigeria Review, The Shallow Tales Review, Libretto Magazine, Literandra, and elsewhere. He is a fellow of the Bada Murya Fellowship.

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