Johnson Donatus Aihumekeokhai Ojeikere (1930 - 2014), known as J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, was a Nigerian photographer known for his work with unique hairstyles found in Nigeria. Born in Western Nigeria, Ojeikere spent his formative years as a photographer for the Ministry of Education in Lagos and later in the West African Publicity Agency.
He opened his own studio ‘Foto Ojeikere’ in 1975 and about this time began his legendary series photographing women’s hairstyles.
Although there is a strong documentary quality to the series, preserving an ancient heritage, Ojeikere presents the hairstyles as works of art. Often taken from the back, they are sculptural and abstract, sensitive to the intricacies of the work and admiring of the beauty of the design.
‘Royal families have the exclusive right to their hairstyle, which cannot be imitated... it’s a mark of distinction. Their knowledge is transmitted from mother to daughter.’
With every portrait Ojeikere notes where the hairstyle is from, its meaning, its name and its history.