Encountering the Afo / Eloyi People of Northern Nigeria
The Visual Documents of Elsy Leuzinger and Jolantha Tschudi 1954–1955
In 1954–55, two Swiss women—Elsy Leuzinger, later director of the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, and aviation pioneer Jolantha Tschudi—undertook anthropological field research in the hills of northern Nigeria among an ethnic group still practicing a traditional way of life.These remote Afo, now called Eloyi, had never seen white women before. The women from Zurich lived in four different villages, investigating the traditional customs, subsistence economy, and ritual festivals through participant observation and interviews and recording their findings in photographs and films. Their research results were published in German in 1956 and 1966 as well as in two newspaper articles, which also included a small portion of the photographic material. By chance, a large volume of visual material was found in the estate of Jolantha Tschudi in 2019. It is published here for the first time, together with recovered color slides by Elsy Leuzinger. The aim is to make these historical visual documents and research results available in English to the Eloyi people as well as to the general public, along with historical evidence of the first explorations of this region of the Benue and documents from the British colonial occupation.