Nigeria-born freelance photographer and youth worker Ruth Ossai refers to herself as an “Igbo/Yorkshire warrior” – a title which celebrates her dual heritage as a strong and fearless Igbo woman now living in England’s West Yorkshire.
“I’m really infatuated by the way in which photography can tell stories, capture and empower black identity and culture, especially Nigerian identity, which is so beautiful, effortless and powerful. This is something I have been surrounded by and capturing all my life.”
Ruth’s photography looks to “celebrate, to question the standard of beauty, empower and represent Nigeria and Nigerians, Africa and Africans in and away from home.” Her images present a heady blend of the many faces and styles bubbling through the vast continent, whether swaggering men in cowboy hats, women in full traditional Igbo attire or wearing nothing but a chainmail bodysuit and a pair of red patent boots.
“I am a strong advocate of photographers who are embedded in the context in which ideas are produced, participating in the contextualising of their images. It becomes very problematic when Nigerians – and other Africans – cannot tell their own stories: it becomes too often incomplete, inaccurate and stereotyped.”
Ruth still considers herself a freelance, part-time photographer, balancing her career with youth development work in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and England. As a photographer, she will be returning to Nigeria and Kenya sometime this year to shoot more of her work – and will be releasing her photobook in 2018.