Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

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The Gadawan Kuras are an exotic group of travelling performers in Nigeria who use wild animals such as Hyenas, Snakes, etc to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines.

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

They were pretty much unknown until 2007, when South African photographer Pieter Hugo released his photo book ‘The Hyena and Other Men’ — a series on Nigeria’s Gadawan Kura (hyena handlers).

Pieter Hugo had first learned of the Gadawan Kuras (hyena handlers) in 2003 when he received an image taken on a cell phone camera depicting several of these men in various poses with their beasts in the streets of Lagos. Pieter was captivated and knew he had to learn more.

Through a journalist friend, Hugo found a band of Gadawan Kura performers in a shantytown outside of the capital, Abuja. They were made up of a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons, and they earned their living by staging performances and selling traditional medicine. Hugo traveled with the group for weeks at a time over the course of two years, taking a series of portraits of the men posing with their animals.

The following is a recount of Hugo’s journey on the Gadawan Kura. The photographs below are from his book The Hyena & Other Men.

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In Pictures

Gadawan Kura: The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria In PicturesAll photographs by Pieter Hugo

Mr Madu
Mr Madu is a freelance writer, a lover of Africa and a frequent hiker who loves long, vigorous walks, usually on hills or mountains.

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