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Samuel Fosso: the African photographer known worldwide

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Samuel Fosso1Samuel Fosso was born in Kumba in 1962 near the Nigerian border.

This Cameroonian photographer was known in Africa and all over the world through his self-portraits.

He made a name of himself during the first African Meetings of photography of Bamako in 1994. The exhibition of contemporary art Africa Remix which was held in the “Pompidou Center” in 2005 contributed to make him famous outside the continent. In 2008, he displayed the Meetings of Arles.

He likes dedicating his work to the African major figures and to the activists of the civil rights.

He lives today in Bangui, in Central African Republic.

His life was not easy. Samuel Fosso has no picture of his childhood but he has kept images of terror and violence of it, those of the Biafran War which killed about one million people, during the secession of this province in the southeast of Nigeria between 1967 and 1970.
He was motherless at the age of 5 and he found refuge in the forest with his grandparents, both Igbo, the ethnic group in the center of the Biafran War. « Thank God, I have a solid body-build »

Samuel was a miraculously cured person: of all his family, he was the only child of his age to have survived. But he did not forget anything of the nightmare during his childhood.

At the age of 10, Samuel left Ebunwana Edda, his Nigerian village with his grandparents to go to work in the shoe-maker’s shop of his uncle in the capital town of the Central African Republic.

At 13 years old in 1975, he opened his first photo studio with the slogan: « with National Studio, you will look beautiful, smart, tactful and easier to recognize ». In the evening, he was always very busy serving his customers… yet at that time, Samuel, according to his agent left nothing at random, « neither the making-up, nor the suits, nor the lighting… »

Samuel Fosso likes art, artists and he adores imitating them.

In taking his own pictures, he often thinks of his maternal grandmother, stayed in Nigeria, who ceaselessly repeated to him in his childhood that he was « the most handsome boy of the village ».

In 1993, the French photographer Bernard Descamps, in search of talents to be exposed during the first Photographic Meetings of Bamako, met him in his studio of Bangui, renamed « Convenance” (Suitability). He could not resist. Samuel deserved to be known outside his country of adoption and outside the continent. His nice adventure continued.

Samuel Fosso’s work is known all over the world. His pictures were exposed in London, in the “Georges Pompidou Center”, in the Quai Branly Museum, in Paris and in some various other prestigious places and galleries.

The African billionaire, Sindika Dokolo, big collector of African contemporary art, bought from him three series of self-portraits. His pictures can be worth 100.000 euros the unit!

In spite of his success, Samuel Fosso has remained faithful to his studio « Convenance » in the Miskine district of Bangui. « It is over there that I have my habits ».

There with his wife Nenna and their four sons, he is planning many other projects in the era of digital technology…

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Samuel Fosso1

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