Hello, I am a Nigerian researcher, writer and photography artist working to understand, support and advance healing strategies for Africans in this time (the Anthropocene/late-stage capitalism/‘post’colonial etc). My academic background is in history and literature and to me, everything is about everything, all one big poem. 

I am available for editorial, documentary and research commissions. 

self-portrait August 2023

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Recent highlights: 

I won the 2023 Abebi Award in Afro-Nonfiction for my essay ‘The Fire in My Memory’. In it, I write about a dream I had where a fire engulfed my entire community, what the dream was about, and other sibling nightmares. It’s also an essay about the Sosoliso plane crash in 2005. 

My 2022 short film 'You Matter to Me', made under an artist fellowship with the Creating Black Joy project, has been screened at the BFI London for Film Africa festival (UK), the Enugu International Film Festival (Nigeria), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art(USA), Jameel Arts Centre (UAE), and the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (Ghana), the the 27th Internationale Kurzfilmtage film festival (Switzerland) and more.

I won a Rising Star Award for it at the 2023 S16 Film Festival. That meant a lot to me.

Recognitions & Grants:

2023                        Abebi Afro-Nonfiction Award (for The Fire in My Memor)
2023                        Rising Star Award, S16 Film Festival (for You Matter to Me)
2023                        Wasafiri life writing prize longlist  (for The Fire in My Memory)
2023                        Best of 2022 Economics Writing, The Republic Journal (for essay on Africapitalism)
2021                        Creatives Bootcamp grant, Abuja Literary Festival (for Studio Styles)
2021                        Artist grant, under the ‘Creating Joy: Art, Refusal and the Worlding of Black Lives’ project (to make You Matter to me)

Conference Presentations:

  • Aug 2021                               ‘Politics of control and consumption of colonial commodities: guns and alcohol in Southern Nigeria (1890- 1945),’ paper presented at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR London) Graduate Conference

  • Jan 2019                               ‘Economic nationalism and masculinities in late colonial Nigeria,’ the only paper presented by an undergrad at Africa and World War II conference (funded by the British Academy), Queen Mary University of London

Workshops facilitated:

Academic Publications:

                        Access my paper directly through this link.

Photo Publications not republished on this website:

2022                        Education of the Tumblr Girl-now-Artist (self-portraits, digital collage), HAPAX Issue 3
2022                        Black Women Photographers on International Women’s Day, The Guardian (print)
2019                        In The Hands of God We Rendezvous, Saraba Mag
2017                        Way of Seeing, Saraba Mag

Group Exhibitions:

2022                      Cosmos of Space, of Place and Time (Nlele Institute), Recontres de Bamako
2021                       The Wrong Biennale (curated by olakiitan adeola, ftbc)
2018                       Off the Track festival, Battersea Arts Centre
2018                       QM Visual Arts Collective show, Hundred Years Gallery

Fellowships, Mentorships & Portfolio Reviews:

2023                        Abebi Award Writing Residency, Lagos
2023                        New York Portfolio Review 
2023                        The Nlele Institute, Professional Development Workshop, Lagos 
2022-2023           Shared Heritage Africa (African modernism) architecture fellowship
2022-2023           SBMEN and Goethe-Institut Nigeria Art Writing and Criticism Workshop

2022                        Writer-in-Residence at Library of Africa and the African Diaspora, Accra
2022                        Lagos Photo Festival x Reuters Portfolio Review (best portfolio prize)

2021                        African Arguments Pilot Journalism Fellowship
2021                        Tampered Press Workshop with Lesley Nneka Arimah and Mamle Kabu
2021                        The Nlele Institute Portfolio Review
2021                        Introduction to Photographic Histories, The Photographers’ Gallery

2020                       SBMEN Creative Writing Workshop
2020                       For Creative Girls, Business Development mentorship with Hallie Haller

2018                        Arvon Foundation writers retreat with Malika Booker and Polar Bear
2018                        Photo Scratch (portfolio review/exhibition)

2017                        Apples and Snakes Writing Room with Roger Robinson
2017                        Writivism Emerging Writers program
2017                        Digital Photography Summer school, University of the Arts London

2016                        Youth Editorial Program at the Royal African Society’s Africa Writes

Previous Editorial Jobs:

2021 - 2023         Freelance journalist and photographer (self-employed)
July-Sept ‘22       Senior Editor at Tech Cabal 
2021 - 2022        Contributing writer for AMAKA Studio (writing about African women in the business of agriculture, art, tech & more)
2021                        Inaugural journalism fellow at African Arguments

Academic background:  

BA  History and Comparative Literature, QM University of London
  • history dissertation on value and anti-colonial resistance in the use of firearms and liquor in southern Nigeria 1890-1969
  • literature dissertation on writing tyranny on the body in Kafka’s ‘In the Penal Colony’ and Uzoma’s ‘Quasi School of Taught’

MSt Global and Imperial History, University of Oxford

  • dissertation on the economic lives and thought of Kumasi market women 1970-1995
  • long essay on time, temporality and anti-colonial movements in Nigeria 1900-1945

Proud member of:

Indigenous Photograph collective
Black Women Photographers
African Photo-Journalism Database, World Press Photo

Here’s a 2023 Q&A.

*the photograph in the background was taken in 1911 by N. W. Thomas, the first ‘Government Anthropologist’ for the British Colonial Office in present-day Anambra State (Enugu was once part of Anambra State).

I wrote about the photograph for The Brooklyn Rail here

Copyright - Immaculata Abba (2017 - 2024)
Web design: Cargo/Immaculata Abba