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.
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.
All photographs by Pieter Hugo