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A typical Nigerian female hostel – Kemi Sewell

Experience the lifestyle of people in a typical Nigerian female hostel – with these images and story by Kemi Sewell. Having spent some time living with the students, she developed a bond with them that helped curate these breathtaking body of work.

According to Kemi, there is a clear difference between students living on campus and living off-campus. Students living on campus tend to be younger, having left home for the first time. Unfazed by the little amenities provided, they thrive in the communal atmosphere.

The energy at Amina hostel is vibrant with girls going to and from lectures; with the smell of fried stew, potato chips and eggs lingering in the atmosphere as you proceed down the stairs and through the corridors. There are posters advertising acquired skills by girls such as “braid hair at room…”, “eggs for sale at room…”.

Sales ladies go from room to room advertising herbal creams for spots and rashes. A testament to young female entrepreneurship. Guest appearances by the local hostel cats are made along the corridors as they keep the rats at bay. 

To document the lives of the girls at the hostel, she moved temporarily into Amina Hostel “the home of beautiful princesses” for a few weeks to acquaint herself with the environment and build relationships with some of the girls. During lecture hours, the hostels and common rooms are quiet with few students around.

In the evenings it comes alive with the buzz of movement, laughs, and chatter. There are downtime options of either catching the latest episode of ‘Telemundo’ in the common room or having a chat with the vendor lady who also doubles as a henna artist.
The spirit of entrepreneurship lives strong in the hostels. Late into the night, and intellectual exchange is charged with jokes and banter. As she sits together to eat dinner, a girl in the room quotes from an article she recently read… “Nigeria is so rich that if you stand long enough barefooted, you will begin to germinate”.

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