Historically speaking, inter-racial relationships and marriages had regulations banning or restricting prior to 1967. In the Nigerian culture, inter-tribal relationships are still less common, and the general belief is that people should marry within their tribe. Interracial marriages are slowly becoming more acceptable, but there are still many who adhere to the ways of old.
This photostory by Lexash Photography shows just how beautiful interracial relationships are, you know, because they’re simply relationships between two people.
The Grey Area – that’s the title – tells of an arranged marriage between a Nigerian girl and an English man both given the huge responsibility of uniting their clans:
The Girl. Unassuming and Naive.
The Englishman. Proper and perfect.
He sat in the chair he was offered, the rafia seat he presumed they offered visitors who weren't very welcome. He sat his usual way, the very perfect Englishman way, brogues aligned, both hands in view, one clasping the wine they had offered him, staring direct and confidently in the face of his to be in-laws, all the while hoping they had not forgotten what brought them all into this position. The union was necessary to end their tribes' misalignment, the differences which had kept them apart for as long as they all could remember. He shifted in his seat, as he was uneasy as they were still staring at him, with disdain. "Why our daughter? Why us?" they must be thinking. He wished he could give a better answer than she was the chosen one. He wished he could say that she was the fairest maiden in the land, that she was the one handpicked by the lots the elders of both their lands at the arbitration meeting had cast. They both were given the huge responsibility of uniting both their clans. Their heir would be the first supreme leader, bring their Kingdom together. Their heir would… "Here she is", someone announced bringing him out of his reverie. Story, styling, photography: #thelexash Blazer: @mrilefe for @theindulgence #lexash #lexashphotography #menswear #art #fashion #model #depth #mensfashion #menstyle #mensfashionpost #TheGreyAreaStory #1
Their first meeting. The air was pregnant with tension.
They were left alone. Everything was quiet, but they both knew that if the door was animate, it would complain about all the weight being put on it by the different members of her family eavesdropping at what they might say to each other. It was… well, it was pretty much an understatement of maximum proportions to say it was awkward. They sat and stared at each other, either expecting the other to start the even more awkward conversation they were about to have. She was usually the shy type, but for this she knew she had to be confident, stare him in the face and listen to the explanation, why in the world this man she had never met come from some foreign land to take her away. She wondered what was on his mind. He was thinking of a better way to say it. If this was going to work, she had to be on board, and the first few words he let out would determine everything. He had to be careful to make her comfortable enough to ease into the role in this story she was to be a part of. He wondered how so little power over their lives they had, how a group of old men could just come together and entirely transform two different people with words they call laws and resolution balderdash. "He has to say something", she thought "I have to say something", he thought. "Hi" #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography #TheGreyAreaStory #2
And the first time he held her hand. Awkward but exciting.
It didn't make all the sense in the world. She understood the situation, the feud between her people and his was as old as time itself, much longer than even her grandma could remember. What she didn't entirely understand was why it had to be her specifically. There were many beautiful pureves in her town, why did it have to be her. Her sister had brought her a drink. Neither of them had touched it. The air was still as awkward as when he had first started talking. His mouth was dry with having to explain the concept of the entire situation to her, and that drink was very welcome, but he didn't want to startle her, he wanted her to sip hers, give him a sign that she was comfortable and beginning to accept the situation. He got an idea and took her hand. For a second, she was startled, and was about to pull her hand out… But his hand was warm and soft, and she felt… She felt safe. It was weird. She loosened the tension in her hands. "I understand". #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #3
Then the transformation began. They began to relax.
Now that she was more relaxed, he felt better. All the while, the tension in the room could slice through anything. He decided that this stage of getting to know each other was just as crucial as their very introduction. He had to be honest, he knew that she'd definitely see through him if he hid anything from her. He was himself still struggling with this new major change in his life as much as she was. All his life had been to the betterment of his tribe, dedicated to their protection. Being the leader of the warriors, he had had to shun every attachment as it was seen as a weakness and distraction. Family and love would only be tools that enemies from neighboring tribes, including the one in which he was so carelessly loitering around these days, could use against him. And so when he was required to take this task, he took with major conflict in his mind and hesitation. He expected a bit, but not as much as this, what this would really mean to him, how much tearing down of the walls he'd built he'd have to do. His drink in his hand, he stared at her, wondering what she was thinking. She was of the opinion that if this was her destiny, she might as well enjoy it. It was still awkward between them, but they'd work through it. She saw in his eyes as they kept talking how hard it was for him. Sizing him up, she guessed he was a soldier, very stiff and set, like her late older brother who was also a soldier and had fought many wars with this strange man's tribe before his death a year ago. This man reminded her of this her favorite brother, who she had played with and teased so much during his life. He brought back a lot of memories, especially the most vivid one that happened a week before his death. She remembered that afternoon, when she had poured some sand into his meal and he had pursued her around their compound, yelling threats at her while she laughed her heart out. This made her smile. #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #4
To get to know each other.
Each day he came. Each day they talked. Everyday they got to know more about each other. And she was liking what she learned. He was wise and he was funny. She realized she was looking forward to his many visits. It was still awkward now and again. It was obvious he wasn't used to this and every now and again, he'd say the wrong thing, the worst things. He was too serious sometimes, and he had a controlling nature that reared its head now and again. She didn't like this part of him. And she didn't feel they had gotten to the point where she could tell him everything. They seemed on the way though, because they were obviously becoming closer. And it was hard for him. This was hard for him. All he knew how to do before now was command an army, and this was a more difficult task because he was a bit defenseless when it came to her. He was always saying the wrong things. The looks she gave him at those times were enough to make him feel like he'd lost a soldier in a battle. He would then have to retrace his steps and work on a new strategy off approach… Sigh, He was thinking battle thoughts again. He'd never been in a battle he wanted so badly to lose because this did seem like a battle of his will against love, and love was what he needed to make this work. He now fully understood the meaning of a poem he'd read by a renowned scribe in his town. "I want to share a poem with you", he told her. And she listened. "The tale of love is one of war Filled with tales of woes Of broken hearts and Friends turned foes Words as swords and Gashing sores Always a victor and vanquished Unless pure and…" He couldn't remember the rest of the words. "I can't remember the rest of the words" They both laughed. #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #5
Then it was the wedding day. Maybe a little soon.
The day had arrived. It seemed like a normal day, no special colors or air, the sun took its usual place in the sky, the sky with boring clouds floating by. Only these two kingdoms knew it was no ordinary day as a union, an alliance of their two representatives was to seal their tribes together. They were adorned with the ceremonial white, and they both looked pure and regal at the same time. The whole cities were abuzz with excitement and activities, there was to be a big feast. All was going as planned to unite the kingdoms. The only people who were not particularly excited were the two people directly involved. They had had another of their numerous quarrels the night before. His controlling ego had clashed with her youthful exuberant disposition and they had said hurtful things. Now, he was too proud to say he was sorry. She was too proud to say she was sorry. The still capturer was trying to get a still of them before the ceremony and was finding it difficult. "Please face the black box and say cheese". Click. #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #6
But it was true beauty – different but still beauty.
The day wasn't off to a very favorable start, emotionally for both of them. It was supposed to be a happy day of sorts. Everyone else was happy, and he wanted it to change. He started taking side glances at her as they stood at the ceremonially beautified threshold of her father's house, where the tribes feel represented the father traditionally sending his daughter away to live with her husband. She looked beautiful. He was too angry to notice it earlier. The traditional adornings of white had contrasted her dark skintone quite perfectly, the dress softly aligning with her silhouette, the perfection of her highbrows, what did they call it these days, "on fleek", he half smiled thinking about how people of his town came up with funny quips and slangs. Her lips inviting, supple, the shade of maroon, like he liked it. Every time he turned to look at her, he'd see her face squeeze and he'd turn away. He kept doing this and each time, she noticed. The ceremony was going on but she was still a bit angry with him and his playful side glances albeit the cuteness wasn't going to let her give in easily. Yes, it was really cute. He is really cute, with his white-blonde-grey tuft of facial hair and bluish-grey eyes, and he's current adornings for the occasion…hell he's fine! She began to turn to look at him, and their eyes caught for a second before she turned back, face stern again like nothing had happened. It was going to be a long day. #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #7
And the start of a strange kind of happiness.
It was getting interesting. As he stared at her, she began to think about the whole thing. This was someone she was going to spend the rest of her life with. It was not her choice, but they'd had good times. And it was only just the one thing that he did today, didn't make sense for her to mess up the whole day for this. She had dreamed about her wedding day for a major part of her life. And with family and friends around, shuffling up and down trying to make this as beautiful a wedding as could be, and she wasn't going to enjoy it? Nuhh! She turned to him and as their eyes met, she smiled and he felt everything was right with the world again. He had gotten really fond of this girl, and to see her smile, that most beautiful smile of hers, his heart skipped a beat. A warm feeling rushed over him and he was happy. He took her hand and he squeezed it. She smiled again and it made him happy. He was finally beginning to notice how beautiful the day was and how beautiful the wedding the entire villages had put together for the both of them was. Everything was so glamorous. He looked at his bride again. The image capturer was here again to take their picture, this time, with family and friends. Things were looking wayyy up. They both felt blessed. Click. #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #8
The world might not understand it.
Their first dance was the definition of a spectacle. For them and for the onlookers. She never felt she could sync so easily with someone she would have considered a brute some weeks ago. He led and she followed, ever so softly, with the strength of a bull fighter and yet the softness of mink. The passion built ever so fiercely that it was so hard for it to go unnoticed. She turned and twisted and swayed and dipped and glided to the soft push of his safe warm arms, as the music filled both their souls making them oblivious to the oohs and ahhs of the crowd that had surrounded them. He could feel the energy and strength, yet willful submission to his skillful direction in time with the music. He'd never felt this way about anyone. It was obvious there was something different about what he felt with this lady. As they danced, there was such a connection that he felt that she would be the ruin of him. But he didn't care. He wanted her. The elders were right: If the lady was the right choice, he would feel differently about her. This was surely what they meant. He felt like the character in a fictional story, the prince charming to a beautiful damsel, like the dreamchild of a widely imaginative youngling, penning thoughts as captions for storyboards, except this was real. And he never wanted to stop. He lifted her as they stared into each other's eyes smiling. The words of the song ringing in their ears… I just want to let you know that See I'll never let you go nah This our love will last forever It'd be me and you together Nothing'll ever push us down nah What I feel is more than I say My heartbeat can never calm down Temperatures be ever rising No matter the stormy weather January until December Till we join the angels singing Still you will be right there with me… #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #9
They might not approve, even.
The party had ended and it was time to take the symbolic trip to their matrimonial home. It was at the border that joined and demarcated the two towns, specially prepared and beautified for the couple who had been selected by the arbitrary elders, who had the sacred mission to unite their towns. As they talked, sitting at the back of their golden lux chariot, they talked about everything; from how they felt to how they as children had feared this place, the border that they had been told was the mouth to the land of the spirits and how if they got close, they'd be sucked into a land of no return, fables by their parents, in an attempt to instill fear in them so that they wouldn't fall prey to their enemies, one of whom either of them were just married. The place that once was filled with thickets and bushes and wild animals that entered now and again into the two cities, was now lined with beautiful flowers and ornamental trees. They were starting a new life together in a new place for the purpose of a new union. It was the start of something new. They both knew it wouldn't be perfect. But they were determined to make it work; to make the most of it; to enjoy it. For the sake of their kingdoms. For the sake of unity. For the sake of … of Love. #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #10
But it doesn’t matter what they think.
It was a beautiful place. The house was a big cream and white colored mansion with a garden on a whole manor. It was bigger than any house either of them had ever seen and they relished the fact that this would make up for the inconvenience of having to compulsorily marry a stranger, though by now, both of them knew it was definitely no inconvenience. They had begun to understand each other including their limits. As they got into the house, they toured round the house acclimatising themselves with its nooks and crannies and deciding what each room would be for. They'd already agreed to how many children they hoped to have, the first one being the heir that would merge their kingdoms into an amiable one, with this wedding being the treaty. As they toured, both of them imagined the memories they would make. They talked about their hopes and dreams and how they hoped to help build each others, and how this union between their kingdoms would open up windows of opportunities, of trades and intermarriages and a solid union in perpetual posterity. It was the dawn of a new era for them and they were understanding each other more. The disasters weren't any less but they were managing it better. Because now, they loved each other. And they decided to be together, and talk and work through everything with the understanding of adults and inquisitiveness of children. They stopped at the end of their tour at the large living room space where an imported aperitif was laid out for them in welcome. As they toasted to each other and drank to the future they were building together, they stared out the large windows, reminiscing on the lives they were leaving behind and thinking of the new ones they were starting. #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #11
Because Love – no matter your colour, religion, tribe, orientation, race – is Love.
It had been a long day. They were tired from the wedding, exhausted from the excitement of the day. The noises in their heads that came with the adrenaline rush that had been their day was beginning to go down and it was beginning to dawn on them that this was the first day of their lives. He was really tired. She had hoped that this first night was going be extremely exhilarating, he'd heard stories. And She wanted to go in with all the ecstasy and excitement but He was too tired for all that. Right now, She just wanted to sleep. And He hoped she thought the same. And She hoped He thought the same. What she wanted to feel now was comfort and rest. So He wanted to be there for Her. As she lay on the incredibly comfortable sofa, heels strewn across the floor, head resting on his lap, she felt safe. As he felt her head on his lap he felt a surge of affection for her. He just wanted to be there for her. And He told her. And She replied that she loved Him. Exhausted as they were, it was all they could do not to sit up and pull each other in a passionate embrace that they would willingly and gladly stay in for as long as it would take, with no care in the world, like it could just last for eternity. Just go on and on and… The song from their wedding playing softly in the background… …Our story'll be like Hollywood All days of our lives happy mood My eyes like stars shining brighter Oh love of my life my lighter Baby please believe me when I say it's true No one ever can do the things that you do I'll still ever say it there's no one like you Even when we're 100, I'll still say I do You know that I'll love you till the day I die This one I will do it not just that I'll try Everything you want I promise girl I'll buy All of this and more see I promise you See you faze me, amaze me, I'm crazy about you Say you love me, you love me Just tell me that you do I'll believe you I'll thank God For giving us to us See this I promise you #thelexash #lexash #lexashphotography #story #storytelling #art #artist #artphotography#TheGreyAreaStory #12 #TheEnd
Don’t you agree?
The story features Michael Rosenberg, a Soft Skills Trainer at Andela and Korede Ajasa, a student at the University of Lagos, Beth Model and Face of Zaron 2015/2016 Campaign.
The Grey Area story reminds us of a thing that people easily forget. Humans are imperfect, unpredictable, making them the most impressive, interesting beings. Here, we are reminded of the fact that relationships are never smooth-sailing. This is a beautiful, beautiful love story, so share this with someone to brighten up their day!