Nneka Iwunna Ezemezue

Photographer | Graphic Designer | Magnum Foundation Fund grantee
Left Behind
Location: Lagos, Nigeria
Nationality: NIGERIAN
Biography: Nneka Iwunna Ezemezue is a visual artist and photographer living in Lagos, Nigeria. She explores themes such as social issues such as environment, humanity, tradition, inequality and social justice forms her work, through which she seeks to bring... MORE
Public Story
Left Behind
Copyright Nneka Ezemezue 2023
Date of Work Dec 1969 - Dec 1969
Updated Jan 2020
Location Ebonyi, Nigeria
Topics Abandonment, Abuse, Action, Activism, Christianity, Domestic Violence, Education, Energy, Environment, Family, Fear, Feminism, Food, Gender, Health/Healing, Hope, Human Rights, Isolation, Loss, Motherhood, Oppression, Parenting & Family, Poverty, Reporting, Sorrow, Spotlight, Violence, widowhood, Womens Rights
“Left Behind” examines the traumatic experience of widows mostly from the South Eastern part of Nigeria, who were subjected to the mandatory observance of inhuman mourning rite. These ancient rites vary across communities; a widow could be forced to sit unclad on a floor for weeks without having a bath, drink the filthy water used to wash the corpse, shave her hair completely, and so on. The reasons given for this treatments are to prove the widow’s innocence, respect the dead or protect the living from the dead.

These practices emanate from the subjugation of women which is deeply rooted in the patriarchal culture and tradition of the Nigerian society where women are regarded as objects of rights, rather than subjects of rights. Owing to this unfavorable customary practices, most widows are maltreated, chased away by their in-laws and denied access or ownership to land and other properties that is rightfully theirs. Through Christianity, many communities have abolished inhuman mourning rites, but others are obstinate because they claim it is a tradition.

This project was supported by Magnum Foundation Fund.  
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Left Behind by Nneka Ezemezue
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