Archive for the ‘Africa’ Tag

Other   Leave a comment

Worldwide the identities of women, children and men are constructed around lies associated with being “Other.” These lies call into question their humanity and eliminates the identity of the individual.

I grew up as Other in the United States and since my departure, in February 2009, I have felt far freer in foreign lands than I ever felt at home. Specifically, in East and Central Africa, I’m recognized as Other based on my country of origin as opposed to my dark skin. Hence, there are no adjectives associated with my existence when people view me; I’m a man as opposed to a black man. Before Africa, my journey took me to various countries in South America where the dynamics of being black can be problematic. However being American provided a measure of protection against being looked down upon.

In childhood my orientation as Other began when I was questioned and searched by two overzealous white cops in my hometown, Harlem, New York – it was an unpleasant and senseless experience; I was ten-years old but looked younger because I was very skinny. Little did I know then that as an adult I would be racially profiled while driving in every city I worked: New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and Los Angeles. On one such stop a white police officer, in response to my voice, asked with an incredulous tone, “did you go to college or something?”

As a pedestrian, on a couple of occasions, my presence caused drivers to lock their doors and roll-up windows, and white women to clutch their handbags. I looked at them and shook my head while marveling at the ability of such Americans to ignore a fact: historically it has been blacks who have had to fear whites – innocent blacks have suffered physical and psychological harm by white Americans and are brutally overpoliced.

In an era when political discourse is increasingly characterized by xenophobic policies and woeful ignorance, people whose humanity is challenged based on such otherness labels as refugee, immigrant, Muslim, transgender, black, Latino – nonwhite – are at odds to find acceptance. And why? Well, it has much to do with a failure of white people to police their fears. However, the true problem isn’t fearful and malicious conservatives, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Thus, it cannot be overstated that to be silent in the face of how Others are demonized is to contribute to a lie.

The last eight-plus years have taught me how to comfortably embrace my otherness – the difference that I represent – and move beyond documenting stories that give credence to unchallenged mainstream opinions. The novelist Chimamanda Adichie gave a Ted Talk in which she warned, “if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.” Indeed, no people (or country) are one thing. It’s important to note, there’s a beauty to being Other when we appreciate differences and strive to be conscious of life’s complexities, and the situations Others are born into.

The following photographs are simple moments that characterize the daily lives of women, children and men who are often narrowly defined. These are wonderful individuals who permitted me to share in their lives:

gain_3rd_cohort_blog

Mutonya Village (Butiiti Parish – Kyenjojo District), Uganda – Kabahuma Esther, 18, plays with her son, Kazora Titaus, 8-months.

 

Gain_blog

Nyakahama Village (Katoosa Parish), Uganda – Rose Mbabazi, 20, right, and her niece, Revecart Kengonzi, 12, peel cassava grown in their garden.

 

ayilo_camp_blog_02

Adjumani district (Ayilo Resettlement Camp), Uganda – Three South Sudanese children stop along a road which runs parallel to a field of maize grown by their parents.

 

ethiopian_blog

Debeka Village, Ethiopia – Gumi Ayantu, 45, brews freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee beans in a Jabena (a boiling pot made of pottery). On the right her grandchild is entertained by a family member.

 

rainstorm_nap_blog

Katooke Town Council (Kyenjojo District), Uganda – Imelda Gafabusa, 70, exhausted from working in her field, falls asleep near her front door while waiting for heavy rains to end.

 

afro_bolivian_farmer_blog

Tocana, Bolivia – Juana Vasquez, 71, heads home after picking coca leaves in the lush hills of the Yungas Valley; a tiny community made up mostly of Afro-Bolivians.

 

amazon_river_ferry_blog

Bagua province (north Amazon), Peru – Gilmer Ugkaju Intakea Edad, 20, bottom, an Awajun, ferries passengers across the Chiriaco river.

 

langata_kenya_blog

Langata (a suburb of Nairobi), Kenya – A rainbow paints the sky.

 

ayacucho_blog

Ayachucho, Peru – Children enjoy lunch.

 

ayilo_camp_blog_03

Adjumani district (Ayilo Resettlement Camp), Uganda – South Sudanese children play a game called “Father or Mother,” which involves hopping around a grid.

 

ayilo_camp_minnie_mouse_blog

Adjumani district (Ayilo Resettlement Camp), Uganda – Helen Agok Ageri, 5, candidly strikes a pose bringing her family to laughter.

 

ayilo_camp_blog

Adjumani district (Ayilo Resettlement Camp), Uganda – A group of South Sudanese girls play a game called “Sikadibaba,” that revolves around chasing and tagging.

 

gain_02_blog

Mutonya Village (Butiiti Parish – Kyenjojo District), Uganda – Angela Kabahenda, 21, prepares two of her children, Marian Nabbumba (six-years), right, and Junior Mayalla (four-years), left, for school.

 

A Child Labors for Gold

La Toma, Colombia – Margie Cecilia, 11-years old, labors for gold with family members at an open-pit mine.

 

Gasaza_Siliveri_blog

Nyanza district, Rwanda – After an extended peroid of walking and standing Gasaza Siliveri, 97, sits and rests before going out for a scheduled trip.

 

the_garden_blog

Nyakahama Village (Katoosa Parish), Uganda – Rose Mbabazi, 20, surveys her garden while picking carrots and sweet potatoes.

 

hair_blog

Tocana, Bolivia – An Afro-Bolivian girl washes her hair.

 

May 26, 2009 - Tocana, Bolivia - An Afro-Bolivian hunter returns home at dusk.

Tocana, Bolivia – An Afro-Bolivian man returns home from hunting.

 

el_carmen_procession_blog

El Carmen, Peru – Peruvians participate in a procession honoring Our Lord of Miracles (Senor de los Milagros). It’s a widely attended religious event.

 

Mother's Day - Peru

Lima, Peru – Peruvians place flowers and clean their mother’s hard-to-reach burial sites, at The Angel Cemetery, on Mother’s Day.

 

Kilimani_blog

Nairobi (Kilimani), Kenya – Muslims pray at a mosque.

 

Nairobi's Mathare Slums

Nairobi, Kenya – A Kenyan woman carries basins and buckets to collect water in the community of Mathare.

 

Dilemma of Education

Obira Village (Nwoya District), Uganda – Timo, 9, (he has no last name because he has not been baptized yet) helps his mother, Joyce Pacoryema, 42, cover their family’s maize with a tarp; it’s about to start raining.

 

yapatara_blog

Yapatara, Peru – In the northern section of the country several Afro-Peruvian men play cards.

 

el_carmen_neighbors_blog

El Carmen, Peru – Neighbors relax in their communty.

 

Additional photographs by Ric Francis may be viewed at www.ricfrancis.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Nairobi’s Mathare Slums   1 comment

Nairobi's Mathare Slums

Nairobi’s Mathare slums, situated three miles east of the city’s central business district, are considered one of the worst in Africa. They are home to over 600,000 people occupying an area of two miles long by one mile wide. The residents struggle with limited access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare and education.

Nairobi's Mathare Slums

George Gawo, 28, left, stands in what once was his mother’s bedroom. On the right is Peter Gawo, 28, his brother, standing in another section of the family’s burned down three-room shanty. The Gawos attribute the destruction to political violence.

The Mathare slums are notorious for criminal activity, particularly by gang members; it’s  called the most dangerous community in Nairobi. Recently the area has been plagued by fires which have left hundreds homeless. Suspicious fires on Christmas eve, which resulted in over 300 shanties burned and three deaths, triggered what the police have termed retaliatory fires by rival gangs.

Residents expressed fears of further attacks as tension remains high in the area. “The houses were razed because of hatred among people. People on this side and people on the other side are not getting along, but I don’t know what is causing these differences. So many people have been affected,” stated a resident who identified himself as Maish. Many residents fearing for their lives refuse to speak with reporters to avoid being identified by the groups responsible for havoc in the area.

Nairobi's Mathare Slums

Police have ruled out any political or tribal causes for the burned shanties. However there are those in the community, such as George Gawo, 28, a Luo (Kenya’s second largest ethnic group), who disagree with the police and believe they conducted a poor investigation.

Nairobi's Mathare Slums

George Gawo stands amid the ruins of shanties destroyed by a fire.

“There are local leaders who aspire for power. They influence gangs to do such things. Five years ago similar fires occurred in Mathare a few months before the elections, so that the majority tribe forced out the minority. Luos were forced to leave after their homes were torched. Kikuyus (Kenya’s largest ethnic group) were then able to vote their candidate into office,” said Gawo. In 2007 Kenya president Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga, a Luo, in a highly disputed election.

With presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March 4, 2013, tribal conflict and violence are a major concern. Hence, many Mathare residents are uneasy about the recent fires. Gawo along with seven siblings and their mother have taken refuge with neighbors and friends following the burning of their three-room shanty. He and three family members were home when the fires started; they quickly fled with no time to grab any possessions. “Many people were in church for overnight prayers so injuries were not many. We lost everything and had to borrow clothes from friends, said Peter Gawo, 23.

Nairobi's Mathare Slums

In the weeks that have followed only a few people have started rebuilding; landlord Muthoni Kamau, 65, stood nearby supervising as three of her tenants removed debris from their shanties. She said twenty of her rented shanties were burned to the ground but was thankful that none of her tenants were injured. Kamau, a Kikuyu, would hear nothing of tribal violence being responsible for the fires. She agreed with the police assertion that the fires were the mindless act of hooligans. Despite the disagreement all agreed that violence was far to common in Mathare.

Ric Francis is an independent photojournalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. His portfolio can be viewed at www.ricfrancis.org.

Nairobi's Mathare Slums
%d bloggers like this: