8 things to know about legendary photographer, Smart-Cole, as he clocks 80

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Described as the Father of Nigeria’s modern photography, veteran photographer, Sunmi Smart-Cole, on Saturday, marked his 80th birthday anniversary.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, congratulated the ace photographer, media entrepreneur and author, saying Smart-Cole has been capturing history in frames for about 50 years.

Buhari commended the versatile and multi-talented artiste for the beauty, glamour and depth he brought into the chronicling of Nigerian history through hard work and perseverance, starting out early as a photo-journalist.

In this piece, BlackBox Nigeria highlights eight things you need to know about Smart-Cole.

1. He was born on September 25, 1941, to a Nigerian and Sierra Leonean parentage.

2. He started the first elite barber’s shop in Nigeria, named the Sunmi’s Place. The salon, which he said was located in Yaba, was a a melting pot for socialites especially the young at heart in Lagos in the 60s.

3. A top promoter of music in the country, he organised the first jazz festival in Nigeria in 1964.

4. He worked as the first photo editor of The Guardian newspaper in 1983.

5. Smart-Cole was a private photographer of General Ibrahim Babangida, the then Nigeria’s head of state.

6. He was an artiste. In an interview with Vanguard newspapers in 2016, he said, ‘’I had been adjudged to be one of the best drummers in Nigeria and was a founding member of the Soul and Jazz group, The Soul Assembly, reputed for bringing and popularising African-American Soul music to Nigeria.”

7. He was also a road manager. In 1966, Smart-Cole was appointed Artist and Road Manager by the late musicologist, Steve Rhodes. He would later go on to road-manage musicians like Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Koola Lobitos, Victor Uwaifo, Sunny Okosun, British singer, Militants Small of the M Boy Lollipo fame, Ghanian dancing group, the Rolling Beats, and Pat Finn and The Hikers.

8. A renowned photographer, Smart-Cole has published his photo experiences and organized over 30 exhibitions in five continents.

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