The magazine of the photo-essay
March 2018 back issue
This is Tottenham
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
by Inzajeano Latif
Tottenham - A word, a place that is that is constantly on my mind. It wasn’t always like this; it used to be a time to be a time passer. A place to puff, meet ‘friends’ talk about your aspirations whilst soaring through the universe. Trouble was you had to come down and get back to real life in Tottenham. To cut a long story short my dad left my mother there with her three sons. It was a two-bedroom house with a through lounge. Mother used one of the rooms for work. She was a seamstress due to her love of design and being unable to take a scholarship to study art in New York. So here we were in Tottenham, in one room, in London. For many years I loathed it and found it increasingly difficult to come to terms with our new home. I fell behind in school and fell down the rabbit hole. I was caught in a vacuum of sex, drugs and rock and roll, or in my case, weed, jungle music and yeah, sex. When I finally emerged from the rabbit hole, several years later I wanted to understand my hate of Tottenham, its landscape, its people and of myself. So, it begins with me trying to understand who I was, where I am and why I am. Although it’s still very much about me and my demons, it’s also about an area that has remained invisible in the eyes of the privileged world. It’s an area where minorities have struggled for basic opportunities. We’ve been fucked by systematic racism embedded within the very core of our society. To put it simply, we’ve been shafted but never have we expected any handouts. We the residents have grafted for every morsel and still do to this day.
As far back as I can remember, Tottenham, to the outside world was a ghetto but to us, it was our turbulent home. A bludclaat jungle, a place where despite all the fuckery we were able to puff on a sklit and soar through the universe. Rinsing out the drum and bass, Jungle and UKG in our back room where my belt drive decks would drive us into ecstasy – this was our stage and we performed to the world! The buzz and the energy in Tottenham are like constant streams of pulsating lasers that fire out across the globe and it seems they’ve reached Lincoln Heights in Cincinnati, Johannesburg, especially the CBD (Central Business District) and areas like Hillbrow but it’s not exclusive to these places. It’s because of the parallels that have surfaced, I’m compelled to learn and understand again through my lens. To make visible the invisible and extract these other parallel worlds so they are no longer in the twilight zone.
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Today Tottenham is being brutally gentrified. Its rich past and diverse history are being erased one planning contract at a time. Some residents feel threatened and their way of life compromised. The Tottenham they know is vanishing in front of their eyes. Others welcome the change and are looking forward to a more peaceful future where they and their children have the same opportunities as everyone else but more importantly a place where they can be seen and heard but at what cost remains to be seen. ‘This Is Tottenham’ is an in-depth ongoing body of work that explores life in my manor before and after the riots. Through a series of what I call ‘considered street portraits’ I explore multiculturalism, gentrification, identity and sense of place in one of London’s most diverse areas by taking to the streets and engaging with its people and places.