Rahima Gambo

6x6 Africa Talent: Rahima Gambo, Nigeria

“Rahima Gambo's project ‘Education is Forbidden’ is an important issue told in a visually interesting way with the use of mixed media. The straight forward reportage pictures tell us about daily life … whereas the drawings and the creative portraits give a depth to the story.” - Søren Pagter, Denmark, photojournalism department head The Danish School of Media and Journalism and 6x6 nominator

Rahima Gambo’s work navigates the spaces between documentary, visual art and photojournalism to produce multi-layered narratives that can take multiple forms. She is a 2014 Magnum Foundation Fellow and an International Women's Media Foundation Fellow. She was a participant in World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass 2017 and is a winner of the 2017 Fourthwall Books’ African Photobook Award.


Tatsuniya was created with the intent to go beyond a traditional, linear, narrative approach in storytelling. It was driven by inquiry; What lies beneath these student’s present memory of traumatic events they may have gone through during the insurgency? It was with these questions that Gambo went back to Shehu Sanda Kyarimi, a government school of about 2800 students in Maiduguri, Nigeria where she had photographed a story before. On 18 March 2013, six Boko Haram gunmen stormed into the school killing a teacher and student, and injuring several students. After that, the school was shut down for two years as the insurgency grew more dangerous. Gambo photographed 10 girls; her intent was to tap into a collective memory of student-hood, playfulness and youth by deeply engaging with the students and asking them about their earliest childhood memories, about stories and games passed to them in playgrounds.

Education is Forbidden

After a string of attacks on schools and universities in northeastern Nigeria and the highly publicized abduction of hundreds of girls from the town of Chibok, officials closed public schools for two years. Now they are back in these schools picking up the pieces of an education interrupted. The students wear the same uniforms, sleep in the same dorm rooms, yet they have changed. As students remember their experiences of living at the forefront of the Boko Haram conflict, their stories often sound like a dark folktale somewhere between the real and the imagined. Each retelling creates a third space, an alternate reality that is timeless and unresolved. But beyond this contemporary conflict, the project explores the school site as a concept embedded in Nigerian history as a symbol of the colonial encounter and reflects on the idea of a collective memory that connects the student body and the idealisation of an education system that is falling apart.

Discover work by the 6x6 Africa talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.