On the 14th of June 2017, a disaster occurred in London that makes one wish we could turn back the hands of time. LR dedicates this publication to Khadija Saye and the many other victims of the inferno.
It is with a heavy heart that we give you an elegy on LR – no one life is superior to the other. A life is a life. Let those traumatised and bereaved by this event and other such events, wars or natural disasters worldwide be divinely healed and comforted. May they find strength from within.
Working from the 20th Floor of the Grenfell Tower – an elegy on the death of the rising star Khadija Saye
Imperial was the majesty of its presence!
Towering high and looming large in the London Skyline
So also were the hopes and aspirations of the many who lived therein
The many people who came from varied backgrounds and timelines
People who formed a confluence of cultures
Cultures, that gave a rich landscape of diversity
They were young, they were old and every age in-between
Buoyed on the wings of hope: the opium of those in life’s labyrinth
Khadija Saye and her Mama Mary Mendy!
From the motherland, Gambia, Western Africa did this duo hail
From the loins of the Mandinka and Fula, Wolof and Jola they sailed
For the London Grenfell Tower they went – to make a home
From the bitter life of toil, refusing to be another number
Mother and daughter were set to earn a name
Khadija Saye, school sharpened arrow of excellence!
Chosen voice for the unheard
With photography, she gave voice to the voiceless
With photography, she gave face to the faceless
Displaying a persistence unparalleled
She dug deep into the very soul of the diaspora liberating coolness
Khadija Saye’s camera, a trumpet of the eyes!
Was set to conquer and unite our world
Khadija’s photography was ladder and bridge
Her cure for myopic human vision
Her mortar for mending broken fences
She exposed the identity of the hidden
And captured a global vision for humanity
That remains undimmed for all eternity!
Khadija Saye, a resilient rising star!
Explored religion and stripping spirituality of its trappings
Bare and undressed by your probing camera
From the eagle’s view on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower
You saw and packed 24 years of living
An immensity of a short lifetime, a name young and strong
On that sweltering night in June, the wind billowed – the rain did not weep
And the clouds laboured to tell the tale
Khadija Saye, suddenly our world is poorer!
You are no more in it
As suddenly as we had found you
So quickly too, have we lost you
To an inferno, never seen and to questions never answered
Camera, friends and family, it took them all
While the fire roared, hidden divine, where were you?
Khadija Saye, where are you?
Tell us you are at the Venice Biennale still
Dwelling: In this Space we breathe
With your eternal roar immortalised in your unique work
Yet you breathe no more……..
Our hearts too are broken on and for that 20th floor
For there is no more
Breathe, in this dwelling space.
© Loretta Ogboro-Okor and Micheal Achile Umameh
This Khadija Saye video clip courtesy of Channel 4 News
**Featured banner images are courtesy of tomsimpsonphoto.co.uk and British Journal of Photography**