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Unveiling Nigeria’s hidden treasures: Tale of British-trained Photographer

Unveiling Nigeria's hidden treasures: Tale of British-trained Photographer

 

Unveiling Nigeria’s hidden treasures: Tale of British-trained Photographer

By Taiye Olayemi

Nigeria, popularly known as the giant of Africa is endowed with immense tourism attractions capable of attracting international tourists and investors.

The black nation, covering an area of about 923,769 square kilometres, with a population of over 230 million, is the most populous country in Africa and the world’s sixth-most populous country.

Nigeria, with its numerous beautiful landscape, waterfalls, caves, hills, creeks, rock formations, greenery vegetation, beaches, culture, arts and crafts, could yield huge economic benefits when these tourism potential are adequately explored and exploited.

British-trained Nigerian documentary photographer, Dayo Adedayo expresses great love for his father’s land, investing his resources on documenting Nigerian tourism sites.

Adedayo, also a Cultural Anthropologist and Author describes Nigeria as the most beautiful country in the world but most difficult to photograph due to the series of bottlenecks he encountered while documenting Nigerian tourism potential through photography.

Speaking extensively on the ennormous tourism potential in the country, Adedayo says Nigeria has no business being poor neither any of its citizens.

He says haven gone round the 36 states of Nigeria, the 774 local government areas in the last 21 years, there are lots of tales of hidden treasures to unravel to Nigerians who remain unconscious of the immense potential they live with.

He explains that Ogun State should be considered the religious hub of the nation where religious tourism could be developed for wealth creation.

Expatiating on this, Adedayo explains that churches and Islamic gatherings that accomodate the largest members are all located in Ogun state.

He says government needs to look in this direction of developing religious tourism in Nigeria which can be a money spinner for the nation.

“Ogun state should be the “Jerusalem” and “Mecca” of Nigeria. All the largest churches in Nigeria are domiciled in Ogun, the Redeemed Christian Church of God that attracts at least one million visitors in a month is there.

“The largest Islamic gathering is also in Ogun state, the Living Faith church with their large congregation; the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) which used to be the largest church in the world is also in Ogun.

“The founder of this church was also buried in Imeko, Ogun ; the biblical Queen Sheba was also buried in Oke-Eiri, Ijebu-Ode in same Ogun state.

“These are iconic structures and beautiful potential to develop religious tourism in Nigeria. Saudi Arabia is generating a minimum of $20billion from religious tourism annually.

“Jerusalem and Israel are also making a lot of money from religious tourism, Nigeria needs to look in this direction,” he says.

Speaking on the traditional religion, known as “Ifa”, Adedayo says Ifa is the fastest growing religion in Mexico and Cuba which could be related to developing one of Nigeria’s United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage sites- Osun Oshogbo groove.

The professional photographer still speaking on the beauty of the nation, Nigeria, says every zone of the nation can boast of unique tourism assets.

He says the South East region should be proud of the numerous breath-taking and beautiful caves like Ogba-Ukwu, Awhum, Arochukwu and Amanchor caves.

“The South-South will be proud of the Niger-Delta lovely creeks. The North-Central ordinarily should have been the richest zone in Nigeria due to the huge tourism potential domicile there.

“We have the Katampe hills, Zuma rock, and Farin Ruwa- the most spectacular waterfall in Nigeria, located in Nasarawa state.

“In the North East we have the Kurara hills, Sukur heritage site and more. And in the North-West, we have the Sokoto Museum, the best in terms of content.

“Lagos is also massive for tourism, it is the Athens of Africa with numerous historical heritage sites, the Lagos Island is full of historical colonial heritage sites that can be tapped.

“The largest monument ever built- Sungbo-Eredo heritage site in Epe is also a beautiful one, we have several beaches and clubs in Lagos,” he says.

Speaking on his challenges, Adedayo says he had been arrested several times while trying to take photographs of iconic toursm sites within the country.

He says at another occasion, his expensive camera got damaged as particles of sand got into the lense.

He says Nigerians have to change their perception of the tourism industry as the industry should be seen as a huge economic booster that can be embraced by any individual.

He explains that marketing Nigeria at this point of her development should be encouraged, government should encourage photographs in tourism sites.

“Photographing Nigeria has been a life project for me, I started documenting Nigeria in 2003, that was my first time in Abuja and I was blown away with what I saw, how beautiful Abuja was, sparsely populated and the greens.

“Going on top of the hills, seeing the greenery vegetation, the black tard roads and the white demarcation marks, so beautiful, that was what developed my interest in photographing Nigeria.

“I also observed that countries like Kenya South Africa and Ghana have books about their nation but I haven’t got a book on Nigeria, that was what made me develop interest in documenting Nigeria.

“And 21 years after, I have over 4 million Nigerian images on my archives, travelling by road to states. Nigeria is indeed a beautiful country with beautiful landscapes,” he says

According to Adedayo, the most captivating of these tourism sites in Nigeria is the Mambilla Plateau, located in Taraba state, which measures 122 kilometres from its bottom to the top.

He said right on the plateau, he could sight the cloud coming toward him, describing the experience as heavenly.

“Right there at the Mambilla Plateau, I said to myself, “We are not selling Nigeria, we need to market this beautiful nation”.

“In Asia, China is the largest and their economy is booming, Germany is the largest in Europe with a booming economy so what happens to Nigeria, the largest in Africa.

“We must tap our tourism potential and other non-tangible assets we have to occupy our treasued position.

“So at 60, am trying to lay a legacy to establish an experience centre that would be named, Dayo Adedayo Photography (DAP) Experience Centre where over 10 million images of this beautiful Nigeria will be domiciled for generations yet unborn to see our civilisation.

“There will be a museum and a boat room in the experience centre where people can have same experience I had when I was in the Niger-Delta creek virtually. It is a beautiful country and we need to sell ourselves,” he says.

According to Adedayo, the experience centre located in Lekki, Lagos is currently under construction and would be completed and ready for use before the third quarter of 2025.

He says the building of the experience centre is designed to last over 200 years, to survive the worst kind of earthquake and also designed to be anti-rust because of its location.

“I plan to have at least six of this experience centre, one in each geo-political zone. This is meant to inspire the younger ones so that they can aspire to achieve more than me.

“There at the experience centre, we will have the digital floor where documentary of Nigeria will be constantly viewed, there would be children arena to learn, also the history and evolution of photography and videography will be showcased,” he says.

Adedayo advises Nigerians to project the positive image of the nation more, change their wrong perception about Nigeria and begin to think positive of the nation.

He says their negative thoughts about Nigeria would affect their progress on the land while every positive thoughts would definitely go a long way in making them realise their goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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