Category Archives: Africanah

Everyday Africa celebrates third anniversary

Last month marked the third anniversary of the Everyday Africa project. Featuring photographers living and working in Africa, finding the extreme not nearly as prevalent as the familiar, the everyday. Started by Austin Merrill and Peter DiCampo with over a dozen photographers, they keep on adding talent and expanding. We asked the latter about the ins-and-outs of African photography on social media.

“We want to change people’s opinions. Our goal is to  round out the view of the African continent by experimenting with ‘the stream’ as a narrative device. New platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr allow us to provide a constant flow of daily life images. It is a strange balance that we are still exploring. We can’t pretend to be showing all walks of life, but we try to encompass as much as possible: city and village, many countries and regions, rich and poor, you name it. It serves as a reminder that Africa is more than headlines, positive or negative. There are people going through their life, whatever that life is. It is a well-rounded view to remind us of a common humanity.”


Three years ago Peter shot the first image of the Everyday Africa project. Coming from Massachusetts in the United States, he studied photojournalism while attending Boston University. His introduction to subsaharan Africa was to live in rural Ghana as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years. He then went back to photograph on a freelance basis until in March 2012 he and Austin Merrill were traveling in Ivory Coast working on a story about that country’s post-conflict situation. “Austin has lived several years in Ivory Coast at different points in his life, and the same is true for me of Ghana. So even as we covered serious issues we started casually photographing the moments we stumbled upon in between our reporting. These felt more familiar to us, and in truth, it was a relief to be able to capture moments that were outside the pre-conceived narrative we had already set for ourselves. Even as Austin and I reported a story we felt the world should know about, we found that we could use the casual nature of phone photography and the immediacy social media to fill in an important gap of coverage: the normal.”


Once they’ve started, Peter and Austin had no idea how large Everyday Africa would grow, and how fast. They never planned for the popularity, but now they do learn a lot from the comments they receive on their online media outlets. “People occasionally complain that we show too much of rural Africa, that ‘everyday’ Africa should be focused on the modern stories, the suit-and-tie Africa, business and technology. We certainly do that, but I feel strongly that our message shouldn’t be limited to presenting a version of Africa that will appear ‘normal’ to Americans or Europeans. The idea is not to say that ‘normal’ means one thing; it is instead to say that there are many versions of normalcy.” They’ve got contributors living all over the continent and the regular ones have the login information for the feed. They understand the project, so don’t need a lot of direction. Their images tend to be a back and forth between specific projects they are working on, or images shot in between as they travel and work. “Just last month we added four new African photographers to our roster, from Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa, and DRC.”

Great Story

Giving a truthful image of the continent is of course a very slippery slope. “Truth is a tough word!”, Peter says. According to him the viewer needs to step back and take a broader look; the truth in every aspect of life. Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe said: ‘We must hear all the stories and by hearing all the stories we will find in fact points of contact and communication, and the world story, the Great Story, will have a chance to develop.’ With Everyday Africa they want to hold on to this, even while knowing it’s an impossible task, trying to tell all the stories, or at least as many as they can with the greatest variety. “Our contributors have enough experience in Africa to understand the importance of photographing many aspects of life on the continent. Often, the photographers ‘flying in’ mimic the images that came before them and don’t photograph what they actually see. This is very dangerous and something we definitely try to prevent.”


Of course Peter realizes that his role in Everyday Africa has put him in the position of being yet one more white American male in the media. But the goal is not for Austin and him to have a strong editorial voice. It’s to get a large group of consistent contributors from various backgrounds and then be as hands-off as possible. “We unexpectedly created a platform with a large audience and now we realize there are people who are much more qualified to contribute to it than we are. We’ll just keep trying to build out other aspects of it in the background. There is more local photography than ever before, mobile phone and otherwise. Of course, part of the beauty of social media is that this imagery is viewable without a gatekeeper. Africans don’t have to impress a newspaper to reach a global audience, they can establish a large online following instead. And many are.”


Casual imagery of Africa is often hard to come by. While the contributors of Everyday Africa have chosen to interpret ‘everyday’ in different ways, for Peter it’s the purest form. The idea of photographing everything. It’s accessible. “For a while, mobile phone photography was deemed unserious by professional photographers because it was a camera used to photograph family and friends; for me, this casualness put to good use is precisely what makes my camera phone a great tool”, says Peter. “I suppose the most interesting development in African photography to came with it, from my perspective, is to watch the subjects evolve from a more literal sensibility to a more conceptual one.”


Peter has many goals ahead of him, all related to changing perceptions of the continent. “We’re editing our work into a book that we hope to publish soon and we’ve developed an education curriculum. Next to that we’re also hoping to have our first large group reporting project; many of the Everyday Africa photographers shooting stories related to a specific theme. There is no end in site yet for our Everyday Africa project.”

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Inside the Market Photo Workshop

When asked about the South African photography scene, John Fleetwood puts his glasses straight and takes a deep breath. “That’s a convoluted and complex matter”, the director of the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg says. “Exposure does not equal acknowledgment or meaning and we are seriously struggling to explain our audience what our photography is about.” By saying this John immediately explains the need for his training institute. Started by the world-renowned photographer David Goldblatt back in 1989, the Market Photo Workshop has played a major role in ensuring that ‘visual literacy reaches neglected and marginalized parts of South African society’.

Their initial focus was on social documentary, but has changed over time. Up until 2010 their majority of operation was about training and focussing on the successful photographers they educated, but ever since they also aim at creating a bigger photographic community and on other aspect of having a professional career within photography. “Now we are an established and well-respected place for national photographers to start their career, otherwise not having access to photography at all”, John explains. “Before photography in South Africa was mainly a means to document the socio-political landscape of apartheid, but that has changed dramatically. Many of our alumni have changed and transformed the landscape of contemporary South African photography, like Zanele Muholi, Jodi Bieber and Sabelo Mlangeni.”

But back to the South African photography scene of today. What makes it so complex? “It’s especially the young photographers who don’t know what they actually want to show”, says John. “If their subjects is not within the realm of their audience, they easily miss out. This happens everywhere, but in my opinion especially in South Africa. Part of the audience already has an opinion about what photography should look like when made by Africans and that causes a wrong patron of expectations.” Next to that the status of photography in South Africa is also a complicated spectrum to break down according to John. On the one hand the Market Photo Workshop is gets a continues flow of talented photographers that pass through the workshop and are now established in the market. But at the same time the government gives less and less funding to art and culture projects and that affects the institute. “We don’t have the same budget to support our students and are both struggling. How that’s going to develop in the future is exciting as well as scary.”

The Market Photo Workshop, being relatively small, does have the advantage of being dynamic and able to shift their interests to stay ahead. Hence their change from solely a training institute to being a gallery and project space as well. “We run multi-layered public and development programs in order to create a viable and tangible transformation and development opportunities that engage with a greater community within society”, John, who has been guiding both the educational and artistic framework of the workshop for over ten years, explains. “Our main aim will stay with education in the future though. With forty percent of people under 25 unemployed, you can imagine how important a good education is, especially for photographers.”

Luckily there is a strong interest in African photography from the international scene. Mainly abroad there is a growing market. John has to make a side mark to that unfortunately: “This interest is not really seen within South Africa itself. That’s a shame, because their talent should also be recognized by a local audience. Photography is the perfect medium to record what’s happening around you, not what is going on somewhere else. So it should be the subjects themselves who show interest in the work of the photographers from their own country.” With documentary photography becoming more popular in South Africa and many of John’s students being involved in it, they are writing their own history. Most of them find it very interesting to photograph the struggling, working class, but also the upcoming middle class serves as a subject for many projects.

“Photography is a self narrative and starts within your own world. You have to position yourself and African photographers definitely chose the right subjects in modern day society to show a new view to the outside world. They are the best interpreters to what they experience every day are themselves.”

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With photographic series about scarified people in Abidjan, the legacy of mines in South Africa and the initiation ritual of the Ekonda pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo the winners of this years POPCAP award show the African continent from a new perspective. The prize for contemporary African photography was held for the third time and sees it’s submissions growing each year.

“The way we define it, the POPCAP prize is awarded to photographic portfolios, either produced in an African country or deal with a diaspore of an African country”, explains organizer Benjamin Füglister from “Otherwise how do you classify an ‘African photographer’?”, he asks himself. “We aim of course to discover talent that lives in Africa and until now we managed to do so, but the competition attracted 720 submissions from 88 countries this year – 24 of whom were from African countries.” Quite an increase compared to 140 submissions in 2012 and 360 in 2013, from just 57 countries. “We keep on growing and want to do so in a healthy and controllable way. Therefore we will operate in more languages than just English in the future and work together with libraries and social organizations to have photographers make use of their computers and internet to upload their work.”

Major international photograph exhibitions

The non-profit initiative aims to furthering engagement with the African continent within the photographic community and offers photographers the opportunity to receive international recognition and exposure to big-name personalities in the art world. According to Benjamin this is necessary in order to survive in the world of photography. “Therefore we want to link the winners to international events and introduce them to curators and museums. Their work will be exhibited at 7 major international photography exhibitions in Africa and Europe like an open air show in Basel, Switzerland, PhotoIreland Festival in Dublin, the Cape Town Month of Photography in South Africa, LagosPhoto Festival in Nigeria, Addis FotoFest in Ethiopia.” Next to that they also get a publication in the European Photography Magazine.

Jürg Schneider

With a price that could possible launch a career, the winners have to be chosen carefully. Therefore POPCAP has a panel of 24 internationally-sourced judges who choose the five best submissions, which must consist of a minimum of ten images, but not exceed 25. One of them is Jürg Schneider, historian from Basel, Switzerland and co-founder of the African Photography Initiative. “I think the organization thought is was a good idea to have a historian in the jury”, he laughs. “I can compare the photographs in a more vertical way, instead of horizontal. But in general I’m also just very interested in contemporary African photography, so that’s a good combination.” For him it was the series of Patrick Willocq that was especially interesting. ‘I am Walé Respect Me’ tells the story of the initiation ritual of the Ekonda pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ekondas believe that the most important moment in the life of a woman is the birth of her first child. This series is a personal reflection of women in general and the Walé ritual specifically. “His work can be compared to ethnographic photography from a century ago, but in a contemporary way. The pygmies didn’t get pushed around by him, but they work together – that’s a big difference.” Regarding the work of Joana Choumali and Ilan Godfrey, Jürg is fascinated by the link between past and present on the African continent. “They manage to show the difference, the tension and the coming changes”, he explains. Benjamin agrees with him and says that the jury looks at the quality of the work on all fronts, as a whole. “For example the work of Joana Choumali; the subject might not be the most original one, but it’s technically good and she researches her own identity with it.”

Aida Muluneh

Another member of the jury, Aida Muluneh, artist and director of Addis FotoFest in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia agrees with Jürg when considering the work of this years photographers. “Overall, the submitting photographers had strong work. I was my second time as a jury member and the only critic I have is that I would have liked to see more submission from photographers from the continent itself. Because they come from a different cultural backgrounds they see their own community differently and that subsequently impacts their photography”, Aida says. POPCAP only had one submissions from Burkina Faso this year, while other countries – namely Nigeria and South Africa – were much better represented. According to Aida that’s too blame on the fact that there is a lack of adequate training that teaches African photographers to become part of the international photography market. “Photography in Africa is growing in the sense that new publications are coming out featuring work by photographers from the continent, while also various festivals are sprouting and new talents are being featured in the various galleries abroad. Yet as I mentioned, we don’t have adequate institutions that support photography education and without education we will continue to face the challenges of not having quality work that is competitive with the international photo scene.” Benjamin adds: “There are no art schools, courses or anything related to photography in most African countries. This needs to change, because without a market – or a very small one – there is no chance for these photographers to show their work to the outside world.” Also Jürg shares that opinion, stating that there might be more galleries, shows and curators promoting photography, but it’s still very marginal. “Photography is still not a collectable item for many Africans. How many art museums are there in Africa and do they focus on photography? The answer is no. I asked somebody from Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town if they thought the photography market was growing on the continent and he didn’t think so either. So we agreed; the market is in the west.” Therefore they all think POPCAP is of such importance, giving upcoming photographers concerned with the African continent a podium. “To build a big community around photography”, replies Benjamin.

Joana Choumali

One of the above mentioned winners, Joana Choumali (1974) from Ibidjan in Ivory Coast, is therefore very content being one of the winners of this years POPCAP. “It means a lot to me because it’s a good opportunity to get my work seen internationally, but above all it’s an honor. It has been a rewarding experience from an artistic and human point of view. Winning this price motivates me for the future and assures me in the idea that the track I have chosen is the right one.” In her winning series ‘Hââbré, The Last Generation, shot in 2013-2014, she presents portraits of the ‘last generation’ of scarified people in Abidjan. The series questions identity in a contemporary Africa torn between its past and present. “In the Kô language of Burkina Faso the word Hââbré means both writing and scarification. Scarification is the practice of performing a superficial incision on human skin. This practice is disappearing due to pressure from religious and state authorities, changing urban practices and the introduction of clothing within tribes. Nowadays only the older people have scarifications. While conducting my research, the majority of images I could find were from the beginning of the 20th century, and only a few contemporary images. I also had trouble finding scarified people to photograph because of their rarity.” She had the feeling this subjects speaks to everybody, even if it depicted from an African point of view. Joana considers it a universal subject and started the series to testify, not forget and ask questions about the contemporary African identity.

Ilan Godfrey

Another one of the winners, Ilan Godfrey (1980) from Cape Town, South Africa, also went looking for explanations to the struggle for identity in his own country, but approached this from a whole different perspective. With ‘Legacy of the Mine’ (2011–2013) he took a closer look at ‘the mine’ – irrespective of the particular minerals extracted – playing a central role in understanding societal change across South Africa. “This is comparable to mining concerns around the world”, he explains. “ “I wanted to bring the countless stories of personal suffering to the surface and reveal the legacy of ‘the mine’. For more than a century, South Africa’s demand for gold, diamonds, coal and platinum has gone from strength to strength, often shifting in accordance with the political economy and the availability of foreign markets. Mineral exploitation by means of cheap and disposable labour has brought national economic growth, making the mining industry the largest industrial sector in South Africa. I wanted to create a visual representations that gave agency to these forgotten communities working around these mines and display public health crises within local communities unequipped to cope with the burden of air, land and water pollution, focussing on the disruptive influence of historical labour exploitation impacting on familial structures and cultural positioning.”


“We’re not looking for images of violence and poverty, because that image has been shown enough already. We’re not on a mission, but do want to show our audience that Africa has a different side. Yet we’re also not looking for documentary photography per se, even though three of the projects that won fit in that category, but we’re definitely not looking for art photography”, explains Benjamin. “It’s not even possible to determine a specific style from a country. We had a few projects about AIDS, about homosexuality and gender issues, but the rest was concerning other subjects.”

Like the series of Belgium-Congolese photographer Léonard Pongo (1988), titled ‘The Uncanny’ (2011–2013). He was surprised to be selected and actually won, especially because of the size of the jury who has to reach a unanimous decision. “It didn’t think it would fit within their scope, but apparently it did”, he laughs. “It’s a documentary project that has been conducted in Democratic Republic of Congo since the political elections held in Autumn 2011. I aim to show the collateral impact on the daily life instead of the direct hits. It’s been carried out by accompanying family members, political personalities, religious leaders and local TV in order to document the events that rhythm the lives of the country‘s inhabitants and try to understand Congolese society and recover part of my own identity. My need to see my country from a different point of view than the so often depicted crises, combined with the openness of people to share their most intimate moments with me and my willingness to be accepted as part of their lives, allowed me to depict my country intimately and subjectively, not trying to deliver a truth, but striving to understand people‘s realities and to reconstruct my own.”

Photographic representation

“The winners get a public through POPCAP, which is perhaps not a necessity, but it’s an advantage for all parties involved. Also for the viewer, because they see an Africa that is way more happy, more real”, says Jürg. “For a very long time there has been an unbalanced view of the African continent, today – and with the help of this prize – that view gets more balanced and African photographers take their representation in their own hands”

“There is no photographic consciousness on the continent yet, that is something to be developed over the next two decades. That will lead to a better visual representation of Africa.”, ends Benjamin. Aida: “Photography is full of limitless possibilities and as you know image is power. We have to be able to represent our stories to create a balance on what is already out there which at times doesn’t offer the full picture of the complexities of Africa.”

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Cultural Caravan Brings Peace

It’s almost impossible to imagine the Sahel-Saharan region in the northern part of Africa without music. Especially a country like Mali wouldn’t be the same if it’s history wasn’t written in musical notes. So when back in 2012 Islamic extremists took over the northern part of the the republic and imposed one of the harshest interpretations of shari’a law banning all music it’s beating heart suffered a toneless cardiac arrest.

One of the results of the declaration from MUJAO (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) in August that year officially banning all music resonates in 2014: the famous Festival in the Desert that should have been held in January in Timbuktu is still in exile. The threat of attacks by extremists is too big. It gave it’s organisers and those of similar festivals like Festival Taragalte in Morocco and Festival on the Niger in Mali – held about 750 kilometre south-west in Ségou – the idea to start the Cultural Caravan for Peace.

Cultural peace caravan_credit Ibrahim Sbai 3

,Under this strong sign of the ‚Cultural Caravan for Peace’ we want to express our way of non-violent, but effective resistance against intolerance and express solidarity with these people in need – refugees in Mali and neighbouring countries’, says Festival in the Desert director Mohamed – Manny – Ansar. ‚We want to show the extremists that they can’t stop music. With the Caravan we can give the artists a change to keep on expressing themselves and motivate others.’ Mamou Daffé, director of Festival on the Niger, adds: ‚We believe that art and culture bring people together and they get inspiration from each other to contribute to the balance of the society.’ Both men have a vision to encourage dialogues, cultural exchanges and enhance awareness on environmental issues in the region. With the Caravan they aim to achieve this through music, workshops and art expositions, creating a platform to meet and exchange ideas around the development and perpetuation of cultural heritage.

Mohamed and Mamou are not just together; they are supported by the brothers Sbai, Halim and Ibrahim, respectively director and artistic director of the Taragalte Festival. ,The idea for the caravan started a couple of years ago, during the first ever meeting with Manny. We were both convinced that the indifference in the communities of our rich culture, history and heritage was a great concern. This meant that we were also losing the unity that once brought together the many tribes of the Sahara spreading from south eastern Morocco to those in northern Mali. Therefore we decided to do something about this and partnered up’, tells Halim. Now they work for common goals to preserve cultures and build sustainability, speaking in one voice for peace, solidarity and tolerance across the whole Sahel-Saharan region.

Oum and team in Mentao_ credit Sife Elamine

Over the past few months, since it’s initial launch at the Taragalte Festival in November last year, the Caravan has traveled northern Africa from Morocco via Mauritania and Mali to Burkina Faso. Visiting cities like M’Hamed El Ghizlane (Morocco), Nouakchott and Kobeni in Mauritania and performing at the Village Opera in Ziniaré and in the Bobo Football Stadium in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. With the latter they brightened the day of refugees in Sagnogo refugee camp near Ouagadougou and the Mèntaô refugee camp near Djibo. Artists like Amanar and Malikanw from Mali joined forces with Oum El Ghait and Haira Harby from Morocco, sided by other solo artists and groups from Niger and Burkina Faso, like Mariam Koné. Ibrahim, the artistic director from Taragalte – the festival where it all started – explains his enthusiasm: ‚It was directly received in a very positive way by the audience’, he smiles. ‚Even though everybody, from the artists and the organisers to the visitor, was struggling with the difficult situation, they wanted to support each other and help those in need. The music helped to open the conversation and got the audience involved. If extremists ban music in one place, they’ll find another one to keep on playing. It forms to much a part of their life. And we’re welcoming them.’

With not only major music festivals, but also artists from the Sahel-Saharan region joining their strength for this new initiative to bring hope and support peace, solidarity and tolerance to a divided region, it’s almost unimaginable that the Salafist movement still has such an influence in the region. Furthermore, with music playing such an important role in countries like Morocco, Burkina Faso, Niger and especially Mali, it’s almost inconceivable that these extremists gained such a foothold in the region. Mamou, from the Festival on the Niger where the Caravan visited last month for a ‚Great Night for Peace’ tries to explain: ‚Salafism is imposed with great force and barbarism by these extremists, against the wishes of a peaceful population. It’s precisely because music plays such an important role that they began by attacking everything related to it.’ Indeed Mamou is right; from the ancient library in Timbuktu and other sacred sites with manuscripts to mobile phone towers, radio stations were being torched and musicians sought out while their instruments were set alight. Even normal citizens found with musical ringtones on their phones were targeted. ‚The Salafists are aware of the power of music and by silencing it knew how go get their message across.’ With sadness Manny responds: ‚They want to erase everything people knew about their old life in order to indoctrinate them with their new laws and regulations. Do that with force and without mercy and there is nothing the population can do.’ It is through music that Mali’s oral history, news and identity is shared. It’s the only culture in the world to have a class of musicians in society – they are known as the Griots and for centuries their culture has been passed equally from mother to daughter, father to son. ‚We avoid talking about Islam in it’s fundamentalist form’, he continues, ‚because in we in no way identify to their practice of violence and oppression.’

Cultural peace caravan_credit Ibrahim Sbai 5

While Malian musicians went underground or fled across the border to a neighbouring country – leading to one of the largest mass migrations the southern Sahara has ever seen – artists from abroad also fell victim to the strict enforcement of Sharia law. ‚It makes it very difficult to work as a musician, or (festival) organiser in northern Mali, as many artists, musicians, singers but also radio presenters left their cities – in particular Timbuktu and Kidal’, says Oum El Ghait from Morocco, who also acts as the ambassador for the Caravan. ,As one of our objectives is to promote peace, we are conscious that by being artists, who travel worldwide, we have the possibility of carrying the voice of Malian (artistic) refugees. That’s why we visit their camps; to listen, bring support and let the world know about their situation. By joining them and expressing our solidarity we show the Salafists that they haven’t won. Mali has always been a cradle for musicians from the Sahal-Sahara region and today’s situation is very, very sad.’ Oum point out that there has always been – and always will be – cultural and musical exchanges between people and families in the region, something the Caravan has as a main goal. But there has been less of it going on in recent times, Mamou emphasises. ‚Mistrust because of multifaceted crises caused these exchange to significantly reduce. That’s why the Caravan is beneficial to more than one party. Hopefully it will bring back these exchanges, based on trust, again.’

As the Caravan takes a serious stand against violence and Islamic radicalism – who are against music and non-Muslims – they fight against the influence of the extremist threat. A worldwide challenge, but through artistic and music expression of their culture, these artists and festival organisers say that ‘this has nothing to do with our way of life’. By re-establishing the tradition of the Caravan and the historic practices of the desert lifestyle, they want to establish an opportunity to gather, discuss and describe current issues through culture and art. ,With music, workshops and art exhibitions the Caravan will give the people of the region a platform to meet, exchange ideas and keep their cultural heritage alive’, the organisers agree. ‚It revitalises the role and importance of the trans-Saharan caravan and rekindles the economic experiences, cultural exchanges and human connection that happened at M’Hamed El Ghizlane – where Festival Taragalte is held – the crossroad for the caravans between Morocco and the Sahal-Sahara region.’ Ibrahim adds: ‚The role played by the caravans was not only economical, but more significantly a cultural one. These caravans meant that different cultures were in contact and were able to connect with each other; exchanges passed through families, music, poetry, art and lifestyles.  These activities brought people closer to each other, creating awareness of other cultures, cross cultural cooperation and a collective strength to address the environmental challenges. This is exactly the role of the caravan we want to foster, revive and revitalise.’

One of the main aspects why these countries manage to work together on the Caravan, especially Morocco and Mali, is because they share the same cultural and religious identity: mainly Sunni Island and the Maliki School of Islamic Law. ‚Next to that we share the same values of tolerance and openness towards each other’, according to Oum. ‚We believe in an Islam that does not prohibit music or any other kind of artistic expression. A great response to all sorts of extremism in the form of human development. Our two nations are committed to peace, security, stability, development, and good political and territorial governance in the region.’ Because the whole region beetles with economical problems and the political turmoil as a result of the extremist threat, everybody has to find new ways to survive in the desert – which is hard. Next to problems with issues like migration and conflict, both countries also await an ideological challenge to stop the degeneration of it’s cultural heritage en knowledge because the new generation has left the old ways and habits. Mamou adds: ‚We are brotherly countries linked by history, sharing many religious and socio-cultural values. But it’s hard to maintain this. We’ve always been respectful of other sensitivities and practice our religion on the same grounds based on the same principles. In contrast to Salafists, we are tolerant towards each other and accept the others differences.’

The moment the organisers know if their Caravan ‚worked’ is when the music still sounds in Mali. When the cooperation between the festivals involved will have increased. Manny explains that he has seen artists and visitors alike cry at the festivals because of what the Caravan did for their music and culture. ‚We all share the same continent here in Africa and should think about what’s happening around us. Right now we visit Morocco, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, but in the future we could expand to Algeria, Nigeria and further. That might take a couple of years’, explains Ibrahim, ‚but we’ll keep the Caravan going for as long as necessary.’

Festival information:

Festival on the Niger was born of a long dreamed initiative by the civic and cultural leaders of Ségou, Mali, in 2005. Their intention was to create a unique event highlighting  the attractions that represent that potential of the city and surrounding villages in the region; a festival that supports the local economy and promotes the arts and culture of the country at the same time. It’s held every year in February and is a true multidisciplinary event, offing a program of music, dance, theatre, art exhibitions, discussion forums, conferences and more. It’s a festival where contemporary culture exists alongside ancient tradition and international music stars play alongside fresh young talent.

Festival in the Desert was created in 2001 and held every year (until it went in exile since Islamic extremists took control) in the north of Mali – usually in Essakane, about two hours from Timbuktu; sometimes directly in Timbuktu. It seeks its origin in the big traditional Touareg festivities, which represented for a long time a place for decision making and exchange of information among the different communities. At the beginning, there were songs and touareg dances, poetries, camel rides and games. Today, the Festival is opened to the external world and welcomes artists from other Malian regions, other African countries, but also from Europe and the rest of the world. During three days, around thirty artistic groups are invited from all around the world to present their art.

Festival Taragalte is based on the concept of the ‚mousseum’ tradition: a traditional festival that yearly takes place when the commercial caravans arrived at the great oasis of M’Hamid El Ghizlane – formally known as Taragalte – in south Morocco after a trip through the desert that lasted several months. Being un upgrade from this tradition, the festival focusses on the cultural exchanges between different communities that life in the north-African Sahara. Traditional and modern music, together with legendary stories and customs are combined and revitalised. This makes the festival a platform for durable development of the region and therefore resembles the true essence of the Taragalte concept.

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