It has just occurred to me how little I’ve told you about how beautiful African people are. But photographing them, I cannot escape the repulsive thought that doing this without their prior consent I treat them a bit like the animals in the national parks I visit. I sneak up to a watering hole and lay in wait, camera ready, until a graceful impala stretches her neck, or a careful mother baboon gently carrying her young bends down to the water. Click!
I am fascinated by all of Africa’s inhabitants. I respect them and try to do my best to understand them. It just so happens that communication with people rather than with animals can sometimes be more off-putting, and I find myself preferring to do this from the distance my lens allows me.
Every day I am impressed by how strong and self-sufficient African people are from a very tender age. On Lake Malawi, I watch children as young as seven carry big metal buckets into the lake, fill them up with water, then dive under the bucket and carry it away on their head. I watch children build fire, catch fish, and cook it on that fire. I watch them wash their own clothes, too, though this task is mostly done by women. If you spend your day by the lake shore, it might seem like that’s all they ever do – wash and sing. As one woman leaves with a load, another one is already at the water’s edge, taking off her head an overflowing bin of colorful fabrics. They all wash clothes in the same manner – the right leg is held straight and remains in the water, while the left leg is bent, allowing the left elbow to rest on its knee. I keep admiring their bodies, usually perfectly fit. I couldn’t find one man or woman who was not in prime physical shape.