As the world was gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, West Africans were affected by varying degrees of government restrictions in a bid to contain the pandemic. OSIWA took this crucial moment to document and disseminate the real stories behind the pandemic within West Africa. They commissioned Emé who developed a mini-campaign & archive, entitled Essential Stories, designed to shine a light on the “essential workers” as defined by the West African context and use their words and images to truly understand how the pandemic has affected our West African societies.
Photojournalists situated in six different West African countries documented the “Essential Stories” of those key to keeping our societies moving, in the face of this global crises. A second phase of the project called on West African creatives to envision what our collective futures could look like, in a post-pandemic West Africa, entitled ‘Essential Stories: The Future’.
The project curated and archived over 300 stories from across 6 West African countries and presented them in a virtual exhibit and data stories. In addition, it showcased and supported over 15 creatives from different sub-fields to develop a legacy of creative foresight. Finally, it displayed multi-faceted nature of the pandemic and responses to it, within West Africa; initiated conversations around who is “essential” within West African societies; and advocated for holistic and comprehensive responses designed for the West African reality.
Visit the Project Site: Essential Stories
2020 – 2021