I stumbled upon the above image while researching a project that I am currently working on for a youth organization based out of Rwanda (Note: the above image is not in the least related to or suggestive of the direction that I am going on that project. Think complete 180°). I guess Boing Boing threw this photo into the blog feedpen a couple of years back causing a bit of a frenzy and inciting a number of very wrongly assumed explanations for why this man is standing in the middle of the street with a chained up hyena for a pet (a particular favourite caption was that he is a debt collector; another alluded to undisputed “badassitude”).
The photograph is one in a series by Pieter Hugo called The Hyena Men of Nigeria. Turns out that the subject is a member of a group of entertainers from Nigeria, who travel across the country with three hyenas, two pythons and four monkeys. As innocent as that sounds (well, more innocent than the debt collector scenario at any rate) I can’t get over the apocalyptic vision that is composed in these shots. Totally surreal.
Other work by Hugo can be found here.