It all started with the picture above. A friend had emailed photographer Pieter Hugo this bizarre image taken on a cellphone in Lagos, Nigeria. The caption read, ‘The Streets of Lagos’, and a newspaper publishing the photo reported that the men were bank robbers, body guards, drug dealers and debt collectors.
The image went viral online and the myth of these street toughs in Nigeria with Hyenas grew. Pieter was captivated and knew he had to learn more.
Through a journalist friend, Hugo tracked down a Nigerian reporter, Adetokunbo Abiola, who said that he knew the Gadawan Kura as they are known in Hausa (a rough translation: ‘hyena handlers/guides’). A few weeks later, Pieter was on a plane to Lagos. The following is a recount of Hugo’s journey and his thoughts on the Gadawan Kura. The photographs below are from his book The Hyena & Other Men.