Street Photo: Patrice Lumumba University, Moscow

© Johny Pitts Photography 2013

© Johny Pitts Photography 2013

Searching for black culture in Moscow was difficult, until I found the People’s Friendship University of Russia on the outskirts of the city, where this photograph was taken. Here West African students inhabited stark communist- era buildings. The connection between Russia and Africa is very much a Soviet one, as cold-war links were forged and alliances made with the likes of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who the university was once named after. That its name was changed I think signifies ties that are being severed between Russia and Africa, and the growing resilience African students are currently facing from the country’s Slavic communities.

You can read an in-depth chapter about my time in Russia in my forthcoming travel narrative/photo essay ‘An Afropean Odyssey: Travels in Black Europe’

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