Fosso, a Cameroonian national, is known for taking chameleon-like photos of himself dressed as a range of figures from black African and American life -- from musicians to pop-culture icons to political leaders.
Nicknamed the "Man of a Thousand Faces", his pictures have been shown in major museums across Europe, in a career that has taken him far from Nigeria, his mother's homeland.
"It's very emotional for me to be here," the 51-year-old told AFP as he premiered his latest work at the fourth edition of Lagos Photo, an international photography festival.
Fosso's appearance is a major coup for organisers of the annual festival, which began last week and this year brings together some of the greatest names in contemporary photography, including Britain's Martin Parr and Spain's Cristina de Middel.
"When I suggested bringing Samuel Fosso, everyone told me, 'You're too late', or 'He's too well-known'," said the founder of the exhibition, Azu Nwagbogu.
"Then I contacted him via Facebook and he spoke to me in Igbo. I was shocked! I didn't know about this part of his life with Nigeria."
Fosso needed nearly a year of preparation to produce "The Emperor of Africa", his piece for the exhibit -- a collection of five self-portraits in which he dresses as former Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong and through which he explores the relationship between China and Africa.
He also needed a production director and about 10 other people, including make-up artists, technicians and a costume designer for a day's shoot in the French capital, Paris.
This is a far cry from Fosso's first studio, in the Central African Republic, where at the age of just 13 he began photographing himself using the unused ends of the rolls of film brought in by his clients.
"But it was already a major production at the time," said gallery owner Jean-Marc Patras, who has represented him exclusively since 2001.
"Even in the 1970s, Samuel left nothing to chance, be it make-up, costumes or lighting."
Uprooted by Biafran war
Fosso has no photos from his own childhood but says he has never forgotten the traumatic images of the Biafran war, which claimed nearly one million lives between 1967 and 1970 after the southeastern region broke away and declared itself a republic.
Aged barely five, Fosso lost his mother and found refuge in the forest with his grandparents, both of them from the Igbo ethnic group at the centre of the conflict.