Maddox-Hyena Men of Nigeria

Men in Nigeria containing exotic animals such as: hyenas, pythons, and baboons.  Pieter Hugo. 2005-2007.

Men in Nigeria containing exotic animals such as: hyenas, pythons, and baboons. Pieter Hugo. 2005-2007.

The ‘Gadawan Kura’, or better known in English as “hyena handlers/guides”, are a fine group of performers in Nigeria that use exotic animals as a form of entertainment to earn an income.

Above in the given photo, displayed are a group of African men dressed in urban clothing accompanied by a group of exotic animals. With exception to what appears to be a young girl to the lower left and an all-white domestic dog to the far right. This photo is taken in a small suburban town outside Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. They’re all wearing rundown clothing, pointing to the suggestion that they may be a part of the lower-class of society within Nigeria. Along with their clothing, the setting and foreground to where the photo was taken appears to be run down. Exotic animals such as: hyenas (with muzzles), baboons (with human clothing), and pythons are all displayed in the photograph. Specifically, there are three baboons, two hyenas, and one python hanging from the neck of the man to the far left.

These group of people, more-so men, are a family all related in some way whose family for generations has been known to give performances with these exotic group of animals along with selling traditional medicines. However, their often misinterpreted by local African news as a group of bank robbers, drug dealers, debt collectors, and body guards (Muro II).  Even though at times the ‘Gadawan Kura’ group may commit criminal actions, this does not conclude to their overall significance within the Abuja, Nigeria community. These people take much pride into doing what their ancestors have done for many generations, performing and selling medicines.

Much speculation has been brought upon the ‘Gadawan Kura” group to whether or not there use of exotic animals should be tolerated within the Nigerian communities (Muro II). European, American, and other countries outside of Nigeria have been forefronts to this claim of finding the ‘Gadawan Kura’ group usage of exotic animals unacceptable. Although, not to say all of their efforts are for nothing, but as long as the Nigerian government finds it just, that’s all that matters to the ‘Gadawan Kura’. I believe even if the Nigerian government didn’t approve of their use of exotic animals, the ‘Gadawan Kura’ people would still remain using them. It’s embedded with the hearts and minds of these people. Stopping the ‘Gadawan Kura’ of their performances with these extraordinary creatures is merely impossible.

Therefore, I find it alright that we accept the ‘Gadawan Kura’ for who they are and respect them for what it is that they do. Handling such exotic animals takes a lot of courage and will and to have not only one but a group find satisfaction in happiness in doing-so is a unique aspect to life that should be respected and viewed in many eyes as amazing.

The ‘Gadawan Kura’ is a fine group of Nigerian people who contain a great deal of courage to handle exotic animals such as: hyenas, baboons, and pythons. I wouldn’t mind seeing a performance by the “The Hyena Men” when it’s all said and done.

Muro II, David. Pieter Hugo:: The Hyena Men of Abuja, Nigeria 2005 II. 2005-2007.

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One comment

  1. I find this picture and blog to be very interesting. When I first looked at the picture, I was not sure what what going on and what to except. After reading your well organized and informative blog, I understand the culture of the people in the picture and what they are doing.
    I think that you organized your blog very well, I can tell where you are giving visual information and then where you are interrupting the visual. I also think that you gathered a lot of information from outside sources to tell the reader about the culture of the people. A suggestion I would have is to many explain “why” they do this beyond the reason of because its what the culture has always done, what caused it to be “embedded in the hearts and minds?” An improvement that I think you could have would be to tie your thesis more towards the rest of the blog. In your thesis you talked about the entertainment aspect, but I am unsure of what exactly the entrainment is. Overall, I really enjoyed reading your blog and learning about this tribe and their traditions.

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