Tag Archives: Africa

The strength of the Sahawari women

It might be the refugee crisis across Europe that’s making headlines, but it’s the people of Western Sahara who have been experiencing a refugee crisis for over 40 years. Last November was the 40th anniversary of Morocco’s invasion of Western Sahara, which forced thousands of refugees into the Algerian desert. They are still there today, living in refugee camps, dependent on international aid. Over there, it’s the Saharawari women who play a fundamental role in their own, matriarchal, society.


During the war against Marocco (1975-1991), they were been forced to run away in the most hostile part of Sahara desert: the Hammada. Without any kind of help from men, who were been engaged in the battles too many kilometres from there, Saharawi women were been able to grow up the refugees camps, where a part of the Saharawi population is still leaving (about 250.000 persons) to the logistic point of view, through the construction of tends, houses, schools, hospitals as well as political, social and cultural.

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In fact nowadays,most of them exercise important institutional assignments and everyone of them take part at the conventions between women who then are often determinants in many government decisions. They wish their population could return in the territory from where they were forced to go away and where their relatives are still leaving under occupation; they are also divided from a 2400 km wall, full of mines, built by Morocco, just to deny the possibility to the Saharawi people to return to their own country.


Italian photographer Raffaele Petralla went to visit these women, being a social documentary photographer with a passion for music. When, coincidentally, he was visiting Western Sahara, he heard about a band wanting to perform at one of the refugee camps. “I needed to help them; they were famous musicians”, Petralla says. “They just didn’t have instruments, so we managed to bring them into the country. We wanted to bring them to a place where they could play their new instruments and photograph them performing.” First Petralla therefore had to visit the Saharawi women and ask their permission. Once granted, he started photographing and interviewing the women first. “That’s the base of this series. These women are as important to the event as the musicians.”


Petralla really wanted to talk to these women privately, without their husbands being around. It’s the matriarchal society that otherwise would make it very hard for them to speak their minds. It was their history that interested Petralla in particular, including all the tragedies these women have encountered on the way to the refugee camp. “They build their first tent using their dresses”, Petralla explains. “But it was also their future that really interested me. Though all these women shared a remarkable history, they all looked ahead. You could see it in their eyes; full of willpower and persistence.”


It’s quite remarkable that Petralla got to shoot this series, because the Saharawis are an indigenous African people hardly known in the West. Unsurprisingly this was one of the aspects that attracted the photographer in this subject. Of course he needed a fixer, in his case a good Saharawi friend who worked for the band. They grew closer as time progressed, gaining more trust from the women at the same time. Going from one refugee camp to another refugee camp he got to meet more and more women, all agreeing on the band to perform at their camp as well. “And everywhere we had to drink tea first, making the visits longer and longer. First the strong one, then a sweet one and finally an even sweeter one. It became a ritual hours on end.”

Yet it took even more time to get all the women to relax and have their pictures taken. Petralla definitely didn’t want to just walk in and start shooting; gaining their trust and having them feel comfortable were the most important tasks. Only then would he take out his camera and capture the women in their daily routine. Putting the story together afterwards took him some time, next to the two months it took Petralla to shoot the series, but he admits that it has been more then worth it. “I’ve decided to also include some landscape images to break up the portrait series. Too many portraits can destroy each other, therefore you need to separate them with a photograph of another subject. This part of the process, which took another month, was hard for me, but in the end I’m very happy with the result.”



Raffaele Petralla is a documentary photographer based in Rome. He graduated at Scuola Romana di Fotografia in 2007. His focus is on reporting social, environmental and anthropological issues. He also works like a social worker and educator in emergency reception centres for unaccompanied immigrant minors since 2012. His works are exhibited in many art galleries and photo festivals like Greenwich Heritage Centre and Royal Albert Hall in London, Photoshow in Birmimgam,Banbury Museum & Art Gallery in Oxford, Belfast Photo Festival, Fotoleggendo in Rome. Some of his photographic and video projects have received awards including: Cineteca di Bologna, Visioni doc 2014 1st prize and special mention, Nettuno Tracce Cinematografiche Film Fest 2013 1st prize, honorable mentions on IPA 2014, MIFA 2014 third prize and honorable mention, International Print Exhibition157 2014. He collaborates with media and magazines such as CNN photos, Internazionale, La Repubblica, La Repubblica inchieste, National Geographic, Left Avvenimenti, La nuova Ecologia. From 2015 Petralla is a Member for Prospekt Agency and Ulixes Pictures Collective and working on a documentary photo project in Republic of Mari-El, Russia, about the last pagan population of Europe.

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Fashionable Niger

You might have heard about the Paris or Milan Fashion Week, but did you know there was an International Festival of African Fashion in Niger? Spanish photographer Héctor Mediavilla went there and explored what fashion means for people in one of the least developed countries in the world.

“Can fashion be a vector for development in a very poor country?” Héctor Mediavilla, a visual storyteller from Barcelona who focusses his work addresses issues relating to the construction of identity in unique human groups asked himself when he embarked on a journey to the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) in Niger. He currently spends much of his time devoted to projects with moving images and had the same idea for this project. Mediavilla, who has been a documentary photographer for over 15 years, wants to denounce injustices, which hopefully eventually will shift the understanding of human conditions.

Model Mercy Ashie takes a selfie just after having her hair done for the catwalk.

Organiser and fashion designer Sidahmed Alphadi Seidnaly, known as the ‘Magician of the Desert’, born in Timbuktu, Mali (1957), at least believed so when he founded the festival back in 1998. The Nigerien organised the first edition in Agadez, in the open air of the Sahara Desert. He wanted to bring together African designers and handicraft makers with their international counterparts to promote African cultures, encourage investment, and promote economic and social development. For these efforts he was designated UNESCO’s ‘Artist for Peace’ earlier this year, being recognized for his ‘commitment to culture and development at the service of peace and human dignity, for his contribution to the promotion of tolerance and for his dedication to the ideals of the organization’. In his capacity as UNESCO Artist for Peace, Alphadi, who also runs his own foundation to empower women and children in the Sahara region, will work to transform the FIMA into an itinerant event so that the next editions may take place in other African countries, notably Mali and Ivory Coast. He also intends to develop the festival’s educational function.

A model awaits at the entrance of the "Centre Aere de la BCEAO", where the FIMA is taking place. Due to the danger of a terrorist atack special security measures are being taken to avoid any problems. The growing islamization of the country also makes this kind of international event more difficult to be accepted from an important part of the population.

The 9th and last edition of one of the most important cultural events in Niger unfortunately had to take place in a secure area in the country’s capital, Niamey, because of recent terrorist activity. After this edition in 2013 it unfortunately hasn’t been possible to organise the bi-yearly festival because of the terrorist threat, but perhaps FIMA will be back next year. Mediavilla definitely hopes so, because although he didn’t come back with an answer to the question, he did return with enough images to show it might be a possibility. He portrayed two sisters for example, then 17-year old Miriam and 15-year old Nadia, who both share the same dream: to become a top model.

Eli Kuame, a fashion designer from Ivory Coast, helps one of the few light skinned models to put one of his dresses.

Living in Niger, which ranked last in the United Nations’ Human Development Index for the past few years, their possibilities to have a career in modelling are limited and the FIMA is the only platform in their country to start and take their first steps into the modelling world. “They come from a middle class African family”, Mediavilla explains, “modelling could just be a hobby for them, but Miriam is taking it serious ever since she was a little girl. She actually begins to suffer from anorexia due to the image she has of top models. Nadia on the other hand, was never too interested in modelling, but due to the interest she awakened in the local industry and the people around her, she is taking the possibility of a career in modelling more seriously.”

Miriam and Nadia with their mother in the living room. They came back from church.

Nadia thinks over during a downtime of the FIMA fashion festival.

Before Mediavilla got interested in FIMA, he set his eyes on the S.A.P.E: the Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People in Brazzaville. “At the start of the 20th century when the French arrived in the Congo, the myth of Parisian elegance was born among the youth of the Bakongo ethnic group, who were working for the colonisers. At that time, many considered white men to be superior, due to their sophistication and elegance. In 1922, Grenard André Matsoua was the first Congolese man ever to come back from Paris dressed as a genuine Frenchman. His arrival caused great admiration among his fellow countrymen; he became known as the first Grand Sapeur”, he explains. Supported by the respect and admiration of their community, today’s Sapeurs consider themselves artists. They add a touch of glamour to their humble environment through their refined manners and impeccable dressing styles. Each of them is unique, each possessing a particular and individualised repertoire of gestures.” They all share the same dream: to go to Paris and return to Brazzaville as the ambassadors of supreme elegance.

Miriam and Nadia are two teenagers from a middle-class African family who want to become top models. They love technology, especially being connected by FaceBook with their friends.

Though Mediavilla didn’t have the opportunity to go back to Niger, he does still stay in touch with the two sisters. Just like he does with Ahoua, who was 23-years old when he met her and started modelling when she was 19. It was her second time at the FIMA and she actually makes a living modelling at different other African fashion festivals as well. Next to that she works in a disco. With Niger facing growing Islamisation in recent years, if Ahoua goes out she has to cover her hair. Wearing a miniskirt in the street is forbidden, which makes that she has to live a double life. One of oppression during the daytime and one of freedom at night. Alphadi found this out the hard way: in 2000 for example, his flagship workshop and boutique was shattered by some fundamentalists for making dresses that expose women’s body parts in several places. Afterwards, in 2011 just a day before his FIMA event was to kick-start, his workshops in Niamey were set on fire.

Nadia, 15, helps her older sister Miriam, 17, to put her bra.

Nadia plays with her tablet.

With that the fashion festival was caught in the same struggle; on the one hand organising an event that made people from all over the world come to Niger and thus get to know this ‘forgotten’ country, but on the other not adhering to the strict Islamic rules imposed by insurgents. Just when Alphadi wants the world to realise that ‘Africa is not just poverty, fighting and disease – Africa is also art and design’, he isn’t able to show that anymore. The fact that FIMA offered a unique platform to local designers and models and that their motto is ‘Creativity for Peace and Development in Africa’, doesn’t matter to the ones that say it’s against their law. Perhaps the recent elections can bring change in the future and create a safe space for FIMA to relive it’s festival.

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Nabil Boutros: creating awareness with poetry

African photography is on the rise. Following decades of photographic misrepresentation by observers from outside the continent, African photographers are now showing the world what they see through their lens. This is Africa spotlights them in a series of interviews. 

When talking about the photography of Nabil Boutros there is a distinctive turning point to be noted, exactly ten years ago. Before 2005 the Egyptian photographer was trying to show good sides of a difficult present by being close to people, to their faith, to every day life and by trying to introduce some beauty or dreams. “But since, I am making and using pictures (even my own archives) to bring consciousness awareness of what is happening socially with a distance that I can call poetic, or may be philosophic. Hopefeully at least”, Nabil explains. “It’s clear to me that I cannot make the same pictures as before; my point of view have changed. Before, I was aware to show empathy with people, situations, beauty. But now I am more looking to find formal approaches of some ideas or ironic comments.”

Monastère de Deir Baramos - Wadi El Natroun - Egypte Les Coptes12

Nabil’s most recent works are not only conceptual: form and shape are also very important and make up an essential part of it; they have to pull sensations in the same direction. Conceiving a new project means for him conceiving the appropriate form. “I have my commitments with my projects, but no formal style, brand or trade mark which are mainly concerned by trade, buying and selling. My main concern is about Egypt and the Middle East, trying to raise problematics on a human level.”

Moine dentiste, Monastère Saint Paul du Désert - Mer Rouge- Egypte
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Dark and hazy

Having studied decorative arts in Cairo and painting in Paris, Nabil has a broad background. “At the time I was studying I was feeling very close to classic painting and drawing. I started making conceptual paintings with classical techniques with the help of photographs I was taking, but was not really satisfied. So I started making photos, trying to catch emotions, instants that were giving me immediate feeling of truth.” He was getting pleasure out of working in the lab and the craft side of black and white photography. Funny thing is that the photographer he is today has more to do with his first conceptual work as a painter than his first experiences of photography thirty years ago. “Since my beginnings, I didn’t like to show and describe everything. Dark and hazy pictures leaves enough space for the viewer to project himself, to dream in the picture. That’s why I never became a reporter in a journalistic definition. Newspaper and magazine photographs are showing easily understandable situations to illustrate subjects, which doesn’t interest me as photographer.”

He even went the opposite direction, trying to combine pictures beside each other to transcend resistance to a quick and consummative reading of the images. “Photographic techniques have changed and the relationship with images too. Meanwhile, continuing to resist consuming images, I slowly slipped to my recent conceptual works.”

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Witch hunt

Because Nabil is focusing on his own subjects, whatever is the success, or non success that it gets from audience, he is determined in his task: giving shape to thoughts and feelings and putting them on a public ground like little bricks. Trying to give an intimate image of Egypt, from inside, on different subjects for the Egyptian and foreign audience. Before he didn’t meet particular difficulties for shooting pictures, but since a year and half, it is even difficult to show up a camera. “There is a real witch hunt for any kind of recording, not only from authorities but also people who are sincerely convinced that any photographer or cameraman is working for with a foreign agenda to demolish the Egyptian state.”

The Egyptian photography scene was and still is very rich, according to Nabil, but was actually enhanced by two combined phenomenons: a digital revolution and street revolution. A young new generation learned very quickly what is reporting, making good images. That was really missing due to police surveillance for long years.

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Conveying experience, emotion and sensation

African photography is on the rise. Following decades of photographic misrepresentation by observers from outside the continent, African photographers are now showing the world what they see through their lens. This is Africa spotlights them in a series of interviews. 

Born to Congolese parents in Liège, Belgium, it’s no surprise that Léonard Pongo feels a connection with the country of his origin. He has long wanted to work in the DRC, but in fact had never visited before he started his first documentary project ‘The Uncanny,’ back in 2011. “I wanted much more to see, live and understand the country than give a specific opinion about it. More than trying to convince people of seeing Congo in a certain way, I wanted to complete my understanding of what life in the country was like.”

uncanny01 A car accident in the Golf neighbourhood in Lubumbashi - 2013 A young woman dances at the Lubumbashi golf open - 2013


Pongo doesn’t see himself as a journalist and though he considers himself a documentary photographer, he is critical towards the use of photography to convey specific or complex ideas. “Photography is a very flawed medium which seldom delivers any obvious truth or translates any clear reality without the use of additional tools. The camera transforms reality, it is both limited and incomplete in what it can show to convey a complex reality. It works better to create abstract containers than informative objects.” His Congo project ‘The Uncanny’ is heavily influenced by his subjective experience and personal relationship to the country and the people. As such, he gives more credit to emotional truthfulness in this work than to informative value. “I therefore see it more as a biased and partial view of life in the country than a social analysis of the country. My work related more to using photography to convey experience, emotion and sensation, than to deliver ‘truth’.”


The Uncanny

Pongo’s long term project required a lot of energy and time, and he wanted to develop his own visual language to tell stories that are relevant to his experience in the DRC. The documentary project was conducted in the provinces of Kinshasa, Bas-Congo, Bandundu, Kasaï and Katanga after the political elections of Autumn 2011. Léonard photographed family members, political personalities, religious leaders and local TV presenters in order to document the events that give rhythm to the lives of the country‘s inhabitants. By doing so he tried to understand Congolese society and recover part of his own identity.

“This story tries to show the collateral impact of the war instead of the direct hits. 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.”

 A fanillly poses during a familly reunion in the suburds of Lubumbashi - 2013


During his work in Congo, Léonard Pongo didn’t try to follow a political agenda. His work is not an attempt at settling scores or reclaiming anything. “I believe people will define themselves for, rather than against, fashions, or values, and I think the Congolese art scene has enough to say on its own, without the need to justify it against history. I think artists can convey more powerful works when they don’t try to justify them through a discourse of guilt or shame.” Befittingly, Pongo’s work is the result of many interactions in chosen places where he has been able to work. It’s not manufactured to serve a specific claim or to support a specific image of Congo.

“What transpires from the series is a certain energy of strangeness, a feeling of being observed as much as observing, and a certain tension. Conflicts have been very definitive parts of creating connection with people and that also transpire in the series.

This work does not rely on a clear narration but rather a loose discovery of a world filled with various characters who shared their lives with me.

A woman poses at the Kananga Hospital - 2011
 Disco Ntemba, a club of the Gombe neighbourhood (Kinshasa) - 2011


Pongo, who now lives in Brussels, thinks his photography is greatly influenced by western values and western tastes. He believes that bringing different values together produces conflict, but this conflict also generates content. “In that sense, my conflict has more to do with the fact that I am shared between identities that I cannot really bring together. I don’t define my identity as ‘African’ or anything else, but the mixing together of elements is what drives me. In the future I definitely want to do more projects in Congo, however, digging deeper and continuing to live through and digest more of its reality.

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The rich photography of Egypt

African photography is on the rise. Following decades of photographic misrepresentation by observers from outside the continent, African photographers are now showing the world what they see through their lens. This is Africa spotlights them in a series of interviews.

“My photography is always evolving. In the past few years my work has been increasingly introspective”, Laura El-Tantawy says. “It’s about timing and the journey I happen to be on in my life at the moment. Generally my work explores social and environmental issues that have some attachment to my own background. I think this will always be the backdrop in my work”, the Egyptian photographer says. Although born in the United Kingdom, she identifies more with her Egyptian heritage and focusses her work accordingly.

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“I almost never photograph what I’m actually looking at. I read, talk to people on the street and feel so when I’m in any given situation, I am usually photographing the amalgamation of these things. It’s an approach that sides with the idea that photography is not objective. I don’t believe in neutrality in pictures”, Laura explains. Her starting point is to inform herself; she cannot relate information if she doesn’t understand it. “In going out on the street and exploring places I would not have been to if not for my camera and meeting people I would not have otherwise come upon, I am expanding my own horizons. This is the starting point. Ultimately I hope when people see the pictures they will relate, understand or even better, change their perception.”



Laura thinks there has to be a larger goal than something within herself. She has a personal conflict though because she is skeptical about photography’s power to change perception or get people to take action. “There are some historical instances where pictures did that, but it is rare. This makes me look at photography, and my work particularly, from a narrower point of view.” In that perspective it’s also good that she doesn’t live in Egypt full-time, she says. “I can look at things from a distant eye and I find that this gives me clarity and a fresh perspective. I always work on my own long-term projects.”



“My ideas are inspired by the news, the vibe I am feeling on the streets or something someone said. The starting point is the idea itself and it has to be something that I believe is relevant, visual and I have something to say about. If I see pictures in my head, then I know this is going to be something I can do. Egypt and the African continent are full of life. They are also full of hardship and years of terrible corruption and injustices. This overlap of beauty and hardship is in itself inspiring for me.” She takes her country as it is; disliking the difficulties of everything in Egypt because it’s unnecessary, but again, the fact that she does not live there full-time gives her an advantage over people who live there all the time and have to deal with these daily stresses. “Photographically speaking, Egypt is much richer for me than most other places.”



She has a good explanation for the limitations of photography in her home country, a multitude of reasons: “A lot of it is cultural. We are conservative people by nature and I don’t mean religious, I mean character wise. We are used to protecting ourselves because we grew up in a society where there were always people telling us what to do. We follow rules, follow conventional educational and career paths. So we are taught to conform and all these factors make us a closed up people. This of course is changing, slowly. I also feel as a people we have not moved beyond the perception of photography as something that is done in the studio. So seeing the camera out on the street is a fairly new phenomenon.”


Long way

According to Laura the photograph scene in Egypt is growing. It is geared more towards photojournalism, but the fact it is growing is very positive. “I think it has a very long way to go. You have to educate people that photography is worthy of respect. You can just look at the front pages of any local newspaper and you see how poorly pictures are treated. We are still very much a culture of spoken words.”

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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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The different side of Brazzaville

African photography is on the rise. Following decades of photographic misrepresentation by observers from outside the continent, African photographers are now showing the world what they see through their lens. This is Africa spotlights them in a series of interviews.

Before his dad wanted to give Baudouin Mouanda his Zenit camera, he first had to show good results in school. Apparently he did, because now the Congolese photographer is not only capturing the reality and hidden worlds of his society, but is also part of the photography collective Generation Elili. “We work to promote Congolese photography internationally”, Baudoin explains. “Our situation is not only difficult because of what is happening in our country, but also as photographers self as well. We need to support each other, hence the start of this collective.” Since 2003 they meet every last Friday of the month to discuss photography and show each other their work. Next to that they blog and organize photo walk through Brazzaville to introduce people in the street to their work. “We want to tell a broad audience what we do and show them a different side of their city. Last year we also organized a meeting with photographers from other African countries like Mali, Niger and Tunisia to get to know each other and exchange ideas. Now it’s actually time to organize an international photography event in Congo-Brazzaville.”

Baudouin MOUANDA- 07

Baudouin MOUANDA- 04


Baudoin, who won the Young Talent Award at Encounters of Africa Photography in Bamako in 2009, focusses mainly on political and social subjects with his photographers and has the strong urge to educate others. Not only other photographers, but also members of his local community and even an international audience. “I want others to understand the world we (Congolese) live in, including the problems we struggle with. But I do want to do this through good imagery. That’s the reason I don’t just go out and shoot on the street usually, but plan my shoots with models to express the feelings and situations I experience in daily life.” His first motivation however, is a person one: if an image isn’t good or interesting enough for him, Baudouin automatically considers it not good enough for his audience. “Yet when I’m content with it, I afterwards don’t care what others think about it. At least it’s good enough for me.”

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Baudouin_Mouanda_1 HIP HOP ET SOCIETE

Representing Brazzaville

According to Baudouin, who was also featured in Al Jazeera’s Artscape: The New African Photography other photographers sketch a wrong image of Africa as only being poor and war torn. With this he doesn’t only refer to foreign correspondents, but also his fellow countrymen. “It’s what sells and even though we need money to survive, it’s not the way I want to showcase my country. Together with the other photographer of Generation Elili we therefore try to represent Brazzaville differently. Suffering is everywhere – not only in Africa. Our task is to show the real image of our lives, knowing that we are here every day and know all the ins-and-outs. We – the Congolese – are the only ones who can show the audience a balanced picture.” Luckily Baudouin thinks that photography in Brazzaville is developing and growing. There is more room for their work and people are more interested in what they have to show. “We also go to schools to show our photography and open their eyes. A lot of young photographers have come up for the years and now flourish.”

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“They were actually surprised that it was a fellow African photographing them”

African photography is on the rise. Following decades of photographic misrepresentation by observers from outside the continent, African photographers are now showing the world what they see through their lens. This is Africa spotlights them in a series of interviews.

Somewhere in 2001, Andrew Eseibo was asked by a friend what he wanted as a gift. “A camera”, he replied. And so Eseibo (1978) got a camera and started to teach himself to be a photographer. Before he was never encouraged to follow his artistic dream, because growing up photography was not considered a profession in his home country of Nigeria. “But quickly I got stuck, because the once that did earn money with it, did so by doing commercial work; weddings, portraits and such. That didn’t really inspire me, so I started browsing the internet to get in touch with foreign photographers and look at photography books to get inspired.”

pool beting001

pool beting002

Nigeria on his mind

Born and living in Lagos, he started chronicling the rapid development of urban Nigeria as well as the country’s rich culture and heritage in Nigeria’s largest city Ibadan. Eseibo is primarily concerned with the lives of ordinary Africans, which shows in the subjects of his series. “I’m interested in simple things that happen around me. That’s why for a series like ‘Pool Betting’ I photographed the trend of football pool betting amongst older men, for ‘God is Alive’ I record religious spaces spread throughout the country to demonstrate how Nigerians express their own brand of praise and in ‘Nigeria on My Mind’ I bundle our cultural heritage, ethnic diversity and geographic beauty of my country”. Some of his other work includes capturing the bustling night life of Lagos and the associated bouncers, the appropriating of football in unconventional environments in his country and the story of Sunny Omini, an ex-football star turned missionary.

Living Positive

Living Positive

Heavy subjects

But there are also more serious subjects that capture Eseibo’s eye, like he shows with his series ‘Living Positive’: “I followed the black, female lesbian with HIV Thoko Ngubeni, who has to fight all kinds of discrimination and stigmatization. Rejected by her family and friend and at one point on the verge of death, she now managed to turn her life around. In an untitled, on-going portrait series I photograph resilient African gays to challenge the stereotypical representation of LGBTQ’s in African cultures.” After gaining international recognition over the past decade, Eseibo also started exploring new creative territories and integrating multimedia, like for his series ‘Barbara Encounter’ about a Zambian sex worker and ‘Living Queer African’, about a homosexuals student from Cameroon trying to make a new life for himself in France.



His latest work however concerns a lighter subject again: barbershops. For ‘Pride’ he traveled through seven African countries, mainly focussing on cities, portraying urban aesthetics, hairstyles, nuances and the people that make all of that possible, barbers. “They were actually surprised that it was a fellow African portraying them, not an American or European. Everybody here knows about it, but nobody took the time to go deeper into the social function of them. It was the first time an African did it, but the barbers understood the importance of the project and said they would go the extra mile to support me.” Eseibo points out that many other photographers pass by on these subjects, especially if they come from ‘outside’ and don’t know what’s going on in the society. “Until now, the story of our continent has been told by non-Africans. For example, every time they come to Lagos, they want to go the slums. Why not expand?  Now that we have the tools and skills, I feel responsible to fill in that gap.”

alter gogo

alter gogo

World Cup

In 2010 Eseibo was selected for the Road to Twenty Ten project to form an all-African dream team of 16 journalists and photographers to provide alternative stories from the World Cup in South Africa. Before that he did a number of artistic residencies in Paris, London and South Korea. He is also the initiator and co-organizer of ‘My Eye, My World’, a participatory photography workshop for socially-excluded children in Nigeria, and a member of the Lagos-based photography collective BlackBox. His work has been exhibited all over the world and published in books, magazines and websites.

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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 piclet.org. “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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