Sifting Through the Wreckage of Congo’s Conflict Economy
Just stumbled upon this vice reportage of a trip to the coltan mines of Congo, and a visit to the FDLR and Mai Mai rebel groups. It’s a bit of crazy journey, and it seems that these guys arrive as a bunch of Westerners not really knowing what they are getting into, but as the tension increases and things get a bit more dangerous and chaotic they learn quickly.
Yes, DRC is not an easy place, and it’s not a place you’d just want to walk into. Interesting to see how the languages changes as well, from English, French, to Kirwanda and Kiswahili with the Mai Mai. Congo is a diverse place and as these guys rightly say .. there are no easy answers. Period.
Check out theses videos …
… and read the full story with some historical details here.
Image: 2012, Christoph Ziegenhardt for CBM Australia
I met Diana during the second half of my visit at CCBRT, CBM’s partner hospital in Tanzania. I was there to take photos and hear the stories of people with disabilities, and how their lives had been impacted by the work.
The first few days we had spent in the field meeting people in their homes in and around Dar Es Salaam. But now we were in hospital, in the fistula ward.
Image: 2012, Christoph Ziegenhardt for CBM Australia
As I prepared for this interview, I wanted to make sure
The London Festival of Photography (June 1-28, 2012) is featuring the work of Steve Bloom, South African landscape and wildlife photographer, who also documented life in Apartheid South Africa in the mid 1970s, “capturing a critical moment in the history of apartheid-era South Africa. Some of these images are being shown for the first time, while others have not been seen since they were first exhibited internationally three decades ago.”
Being in Tanzania has been an enriching experience meeting people and diving into diverse cultures, discovering some new aspects and facets previously unknown. The Swahili people of the East African Coast, from northern Kenya, typified by the amazing island of Lamu, via Malindi, Mombasa and into Tanzania, Pemba and Zanzibar is the dominant culture that influenced Eastern Africa in regards to language, culture and traditions. Ancient Arab traditions, Indian Ocean trade – as early as 100 AD, and strong African flavours mixed into a very unique, proud and fascinating “Afro-Arab” people group.
Here’s a selection of images captured on Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Roof Top Skyline at Sunrise
Zanzibar has a rich history of fishing, seamanship and ocean trade
Sneak peek into more basic living conditions in Zanzibar
As a person not living here, it’s helpful to realise that I am always a foreigner, disregarding how many times I might have been to a place or how much I might know of the culture and language. (In fact, I find that true for pretty much anywhere, including Germany and Australia – where I supposedly come from ,-)
But while East Africa does feel more like home to me than most other places, having grown up in Kenya, the help of a local translator and fixer, who really understands the culture, interprets my interview questions in ways that work with the culture, is just absolutely invaluable. Not to mention the practical help of finding places, or getting a local sim card etc.
Local knowledge and language are in fact often the key that opens the door to a person’s story and home. My work would be much more difficult without it. So thank you Alexander (Translator in Dar), thank you Yusuf (Driver in Dar) and thank you Suleiman (fixer and driver in Zanzibar).
The first clip this weekend, takes us back in time and to Plymouth in this short film on the renaissance of sorts, of the good old printing press. Paul Collier, Letterpress and Typography Technician at Plymouth University shows the beauty of what was done before Illustrator and InDesign. Awakening a faint memory of 11th grade art-classes and first attempts at Linoleum printing.
James Mollison is a photographer working out of Venice, Italy. He was born in Kenya, which makes him immediately “simpatico”, just because of that. AND, he’s also done some really great work. And in this video, showcasing some of his projects, he touches on his approach to photography and how he sees the single image versus a larger body of work. Group and individual identity and how his thoughts on the subject has informed the perspectives of his projects. This all is really fascinating in itself.
In this video James heads to Kenya where he sets out to photograph the huge variety of people at the Dadaab Refuge Camp in Kenya, the world’s oldest and largest refugee camp that sits in the desert on the Kenya-Somalia border. It’s an incredible place in many ways.
I really like James’ photographic approach of just getting there and spending time and really engaging with people. Interviewing, seeing, talking and taking photographs. In fact the first thing he does is to get an overview of the place, from above. To feel and sense the scale and enormity of this location, to better understand the different layers of narrative that are hidden here. Refugees that have just arrived, refugees that have been here for years, and people that have been born here and are somewhere non-citizens and non-refugees.
It’s only the second time that I entered an image into an Art Exhibition/Competition. The Brunswick Street Gallery Click11 is an un-curated exhibition and this year drew probably a good 450 pieces of work displayed across 8 rooms. 3 prices to be won, 3 Commended/Highly Commended Awards were given.
So I was surprised and happy to have one of my entries included among those winners.
Unofficial Dwelling #4, Christoph Ziegenhardt, was taken in the Pumwani Slum in Nairobi, 2011. The Exhibition still runs until October 20th, 2011.