Pius Utomi Ekpei, a topflight artist and photojournalist was born May 5, 1962 at Ebu Town, Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State in Nigeria. Early in life, his interest in drawing and oil painting indicated a strong direction of his future endeavour. His march to professional and academic excellence in photojournalism began with his training at the Kenn Professional Studio, Apapa in 1976. He attended Apapa Baptist School, Apapa and Nigerian Model High School, Idi oro both in Lagos, for his General Certificate for Education, Ordinary and Advanced Levels. He studied at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism in Lagos and obtained a diploma in journalism. He also studied photojournalism at the University of Missouri, School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri, USA in 1989. He holds Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in English (1997-02), Master degree in Public and International Affairs (2005-2007), Master in English Literature (2008-2009), all from the university of Lagos, and Postgraduate Diploma in Theology in 2011.
He started his career as a photojournalist with Daily Times in 1982, and later joined the Guardian newpapers in 1986, where his potentials and photojournalistic skills manifested with his catchy and timeless pictures. His brilliant career culminated in his being chosen as the Willie Vicoy Reuter Fellow in 1989. The prestigious award placed him on record as the first African recipient of the international fellowship in photojournalism and the third at the inception of the award in 1987. His job experience include his career as a staff photographer with the Columbia Missourian, USA in 1989; freelance for Reuters (1989-1990); photo editor, The Sunday Magazine (1990-1992); editor, photography, The Independent Weekly (1992-1996); owner, Rangefinder Nigeria Ltd, and presently work for the international press Agence France Presse (AFP) in Nigeria.
Ekpei, a veteran of the industry for over three decades has travelled widely either as an artist photographer or as a photojournalist. His works as vividly as the events occured, such as the Liberian War in 2003, FIFA 2006 World Cup in Germany, Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, the unrest in Niger Delta, elections in Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria; the entertainment industry, fashion and tourism portray his mastery of the craft. Following his maiden one-man exhibition Just As We Are in 1989, he has had several solo and group exhibitions both at home and abroad. This includes University of Missouri yearly workshop exhibition at Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, USA (1989); Fourth Havana Biennial, Cuba (1991); Land and Water, a joint exhibition with Italian Ezio Quiresi at the Istituto di Cultura (1993); Contemporary Nigeria Art exhibition at WIPO headquarters in Geneva (1995) etc. He is a consultant to local and international institutions.
Author of the book Just As We Are and published by Academic Press in 1989, Ekpei has collaborated with authors on various publications. Apart from his works that has featured prominently in several local and international newspapers, magazines, periodicals and journals, he is listed in reputable compendiums in art and journalism, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art Library, African Contemporary Art (1994 and 1996 editions), Media World Year Book, etc. He is a recipient of several awards, some of which are the Willie Vicoy Reuter Fellowship (1989), Highly Commended, Commonwealth Photographic Awards (2007), Runners-up (African Zone) FiftyCrows Fund for Documentary Photography, San-Francisco (2003), etc. He is a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. He enjoys listening to good music and His master’s voice.
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