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Photography

The Hyena Men of Abuja

What do you call a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys, and a few rock pythons? Well, apparently, Gadawan Kura. South Africa-based photographer Pieter Hugo first heard about the group (whose name means hyena handers) from a friend who’d taken a photograph of them with a camera phone on a trip to Lagos, Nigeria. The image stayed with him (understandably) and so he tracked down this mysterious group — a modern-day, wandering circus — photographing them first in 2005 and then again in 2007. The result is a haunting series of portraits as regal and dramatic as they are odd and disturbing. In one photo, a man proudly straddles a chained and muzzled hyena; in another, a young girl lies across the hyena’s back as a man shows off its fangs. It’s quite frankly the most unusual wild-urban hybrid I’ve have ever seen.

pieter hugo

 

pieter hugo

 

pieter hugo

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