West Africa

                                                                                                  (Lagos, Nigeria)

I lived in West Africa off and on from 2007-2020.

Things Fall Apart||Nigeria||2018||The Atavist||WEB

A feat of elegant design wowed elite architects and promised to bring education to poor children in Nigeria. Then it collapsed. This story explores the widening gap between truth and gloss and the social splintering that underpinned the structure’s physical erosion. It is also about lies in all their shapes, the myths we tell to make this painful world more palatable, and the ethics of experimentation and representation. It’s about greyness and complexity and argues that while there are heroic and generous actions, there are no pure heroes (or villains).

Interview with Emerge85 Podcast about the essay. 

Versage || Nigeria || 2017 || GfZK Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig || WEB see also: WEB

A meditation on low-end globalization and global inequality, the notion of cheapness, the complexity of the concept of “made in china”, the creolization of taste, and when mimicry becomes its own aesthetic. An ongoing project, its first manifestation is a mixed media photo/text/Versage installation in the ChinAfrika.Under Construction exhibition with photographer Benedicte Kurzen.

The Price of Senegal’s Strict Anti-Abortion Laws ||Senegal || 2017 || The New Yorker Online || WEB

On victim-perpetrators, ephemeral oppression, and the danger of social isolation; on Senegal’s infanticide crisis, rigid abortion restrictions and theological debates about ensoulment. 

Marché Noire Lomé-Paris || Togo, France || 2018 || The New York Times || WEB

On taste and trajectories, dumping used clothes into African markets, and fashion that resists consumerism. 

Redemption Camp || Nigeria || 2017 || Goethe Institute, Hotspots Lagos || WEB

On solitude en masse, sacred spaces and human divinity.

Urban Hybridity || Nigeria || 2016 || Nataal || WEB

On architecture and identity in Lagos.

Taste, Scent, Trade || Nigeria || 2016 || Institute of Current World Affairs || WEB

On fake versace and perfumes and on the spidery pathways they travel across Nigeria.

Fools Gold: On Oil and its Discontents || Nigeria || 2015 || Institute of Current World Affairs || WEB

On slippery borders, friendly smugglers, secret scars, lotteries, motorcycles, artificial scarcities, legitimate hoarding, and decayed wales.

Hepatitis, the Road Trip||Nigeria||2016||Institute of Current World Affairs||WEB

On hepatitis, a “silent killer” and also on stigma, and the myriad overlapping health systems:traditional, religious, informal, western medicine, etc in Nigeria.

How Long is Now? || Nigeria || 2015 || Institute of Current World Affairs || WEB

On old buildings, new buildings, social transitions and taste in Lagos.

What we can do to stop the next Pandemic || Democratic Republic of Congo/Global || National Geographic/Ozy || WEB

For those who advocate changes in the global health and emergency response system, Ebola could be a catalyst. That is, if they can look past the consuming crisis.

The Road Through Redemption Camp: Religion, Fertility and Abortion in Lagos || Nigeria || 2014 || Los Angeles Review of Books || WEB

From mega-churches to store-front parishes, religion is big in Nigeria’s biggest city.

Lagosians seek justice for Demolitions || Nigeria || 2015 || Al Jazeera America || WEB

On the tangled and brutal world of slum demolitions in Lagos; layers of social hierarchies, power politics and sprawl.

Abortions in Nigeria are Legally Restricted, Unsafe–and Common || Nigeria || 2013 || Al Jazeera America || WEB

A portrait of Bunmi Ayenuro, a 23 year old Lagosian who has survived seven dangerous abortions. 


Salt and Thunder: Contraception Misconceptions in Nigeria || Nigeria || 2014 || Pulitzer Center || WEB

Crowing like a rooster, or guzzling water until you drown are just some of the myths around contraception young women in Lagos shared. 

Family Planning Program in Senegal Drawn into Conflict with Religious Leaders|| Senegal|| 2014 || Washington Post || WEB

On the culture clash around contraception and some Senegalese communities’ skepticism of foreign aid.

Senegal’s Sufi Celebrities || Senegal|| 2014 || OZY || WEB

Senegal’s tele imams weigh in on everything from dating to drought to politics, using TV to mold the future of Islam and democracy in this peaceful West African state.  

Sex, Lives, and Mother of George || Nigeria || 2013 || OZY || WEB

An essay exploring the truths in the fictional film “Mother of George” and the links between conceptions of fertility and abortion in Nigeria.

How Do You Get an Abortion in Lagos? || Nigeria || 2013 || Pulitzer Center || WEB 

Abortion is mostly illegal in Nigeria, except in a few extreme medical cases, but a grey abortion market flourishes just under the surface.

Reporting on Secrets || Nigeria || 2013 || Pulitzer Center Field Notes || WEB

On the tragedy in reporting on taboos.

Scratch and Win|| Nigeria || 2013 || Pulitzer Center Field Notes || WEB

Fake drugs are everywhere in Nigeria, but the national regulatory agency is trying to crack down on the shadowy economy. One technique is a lotto-like scratch pad with a number to text and verify authenticity.

On Tattoos, Secrets and Jesus || Nigeria || 2013 || Pulitzer Center Field Notes|| WEB

In Nigeria abortion is secret, and taboo. Tope layers her past traumas and her redemption in ink on her shoulder.

Sorrowful Mysteries: Secret Abortions Kill Thousands of Nigerian Women Each Year|| Nigeria || 2014 || Global Post || WEB

A video exploring secrecy around abortions and a written piece exploring the religious activists who see abortion as a sinful scourge in Nigeria.

On Pills Prayers and Pregnancy || Senegal || 2012 || Foreign Policy Association ||WEB

West Africa lags behind other regions in contraceptive use. In Senegal complex social factors–from concepts of womanhood to rumors about long-term health effects–push many women away from family planning. But with women suffering complications as they bear numerous children in quick succession, advocates are pushing for a new culture around contraception.

Coup Contagion? || Guinea-Bissau || 2012 || Foreign Policy Association || WEB

A coup in Guinea Bissau closely followed one in Mali, but the fallen neighbors had little else in common.

Feeling the Heat in Mali || Mali || 2012 || Foreign Policy Association || WEB

Coup, rebellion, secession, oh my.

Senegalese religious leaders’ perceptions of HIV/AIDS and implications for challenging stigma and discrimination || Senegal || 2010 || Culture Health and Sexuality || WEB

I collaborated with Fulbright Scholar David Ansari on his academic research on Imams and HIV/AIDS stigma.

Constructing Democracy in Transitioning Societies of Africa || Mali || 2008|| WEB

I contributed field research from Djenné, Mali to Susanna D. Wing’s Award-winning book.