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Bits of Borno

By Jack Vince


Fati Abubakar telling the borno story with pictures worth a thousand words, One only needs to see her picture stories on the social media page, “Bits of Borno”, to appreciate the fact that she tells a unique story without words, but with pictures worth a thousand words.

Storytelling is an ancient art. The storyteller, with tales told creatively, is endeared to the listening public. History is replete with names of sages like Homer, Marco Polo, Ibn Batūta and others who painted unique pictures with the written or spoken words and appealed to the right senses.

When a crass narrative on the embattled northeast of Nigeria which centred exclusively on terrorist activities was created by people who wrote about the region thousands of miles away from the comfort of their homes, Fati Abubakar, a daughter of the soil and photojournalist par excellence, decided to deviate from what at the time seemed to be the norm by telling a different story from a different angle straight from the epicentre of all the happenings. Google and other online search engines churn out sad results on Borno to users all over the world. The reading, listening and viewing public got overwhelmed by one sad tale after the other about life in Borno, the difficulties, the sorrows, the tears, the bloodshed and repulsive gory details of death and inhumanity.

Fati is a kindred spirit and she understands what Chinua Achebe, the great storyteller, meant when he said, “until the lions have their own historian, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”.

Like the ancient and modern greats, Fati Gangaran, as she is fondly called by family and friends, knows how to tell stories. She does so when she wipes and focuses her camera lens on subjects and decides on the centre of attention using the superior dynamic range of her gaze, when she manoeuvres the aperture control, clinically pays attention to light, captures the right moment and presses the shutter-release button. One only needs to see her picture stories on the social media page, “Bits of Borno”, to appreciate the fact that she tells a unique story without words, but with pictures worth a thousand words.

Photo credit -: Mohammed Bukar

Her advent to the reporting scene changed the single story. Armed with a camera focused on unique human angles, she, like the heroine she personifies, changed the narrative and charmed the viewing world as pictures on her project, #BitsofBorno, show.

She is a good storyteller. An ambassador. Like Homer, her creativity endears her to the hearts of keen observers. She tells her stories and we listen. In fact, the whole world listens attentively. BBC, CNN and several international online, print and broadcast media have written appealing articles about her and have done rave reviews of her superb works. Her ingenuity with the camera notwithstanding, she would rather be behind than in front of it as she contributes her quota in telling the positive Borno story.

Through her ingenuity with the camera and the unique pictures she takes with it, followers of trends on Borno now appreciate and know the fact that people in the embattled region and unfortunate theatre of sorrows are generally resilient, they see that displaced families also smile, play, are happy and exude infectious and heartfelt gratitude for life, not minding their predicaments.


For her selfless commitment to the just cause, Fati has been rewarded over the years. She has been a worthy recipient of prestigious awards and has traveled across Nigeria, Europe and America spreading positive vibes about Borno and disseminating information about her hometown enshrined in the pictures from clicks on her magic fingers.

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