Four to follow #7
Sharing stories from across the African continent by the talented members of the African Photojournalism Database (APJD)
This article is part of the “Four to Follow” series, originally published by Witness. Click here to see the rest of the series on Witness.
This month, we introduce the work of Fethi Sahraoui capturing youth and social landscapes in Algeria, Georgina Goodwin following an anti-poacher team in Tanzania’s wilderness, Tracy Keza exploring the intersection between anti-Blackness and Islamophobia in the U.S. and Hilina Abebe portraying the daily life of her father in Ethiopia.
Escaping the Heatwave’ by Fethi Sahraoui
The coming of the heatwave is synonymous with an escapade to the sea for many Algerians, but for familial and financial reasons, not all children have the opportunity to go spend a day at the beach. In areas like Mascara and Relizane, where temperatures approache 44°C in the summer, children escape the heatwave by going to dangerous spots like an abandoned water tower. Despite the polluted water and regular injuries, you can find them swimming in large irrigation channels, exposing themselves to countless risks while away from parental supervision.
“Escaping the heatwave remains a very personal project on so many levels. I grew up watching youngsters who are my age bathing in the irrigation channels and I’ve always wondered how it feels to take a swim there. I was fortunate for being registered in the training program of the local swimming pool of my town, [but] I was raised in an over-protective family who wouldn’t permit me to go to the spots I’ve documented years later.”
“What tormented me the most is how a vast country with numerous potentials like Algeria doesn’t have enough facilities for youngsters full of energy. The following may sound a little bit astonishing, but two years after starting work on this documentary project, I think that the joie-de-vivre and determination of the youngsters I have met makes me forget about the risk and tragedy to which I’ve been a witness.”
“What intrigues me the most is the daily conversations by ordinary people from my entourage.”
Born in 1993 in the southern town of Hassi R’mel, Fethi Sahraoui is a self-taught social documentary photographer. He is an English student currently preparing a master degree in ‘American Civilization’ at the university in his town Mascara. His passion for photography came from all the visual arts, but mainly cinema. At the age of 19, he bought his first camera and started wandering and wondering. He is a member of the 220 Collective and his quest is to document Algeria. You can follow Fethi’s work on his Lens Culture pageor his Instagram account.
‘Wildlife War’ by Georgina Goodwin
The Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF) is a conservation organization established in 1994 that works closely with Tanzanian authorities, such as the Wildlife Division and the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), on anti-poaching efforts. An average of 1,200 poachers are arrested and prosecuted every year and thousands of wire, cable snares, rifles, automatic weapons, poison arrows, elephant ivory, bush meat, animal parts and hides, illegal charcoal and hardwood planks are confiscated.
There are 14 FCF ranger teams undertaking these anti-poaching
operations alongside community development in more than 3.8 million hectares of land. The teams work hard to protect the environmental resources in those areas. As the human population increases, so has the pressure on resources outside the areas allocated for wildlife. As those resources get used up, protecting wildlife and their land becomes ever more difficult. Despite reliable funds, the FCF anti-poaching teams are unable to keep up with the constant threat from all sides, including those at the top who wish to destroy what is left of this global heritage.
“The anti-poachers are everyday Tanzanians — most are from the surrounding communities. The rangers each showed an interest in a call for anti-poaching selection. Those that pass go through a training process and then join the teams. Mostly they join because it’s a job that is supported by daily food and a reasonable income. In Tanzania, this is hard to come by. For some, they are exceptionally good at the job and it becomes their career.”
The challenges of this job are many. Every day they risk their lives to protect the wildlife and wild spaces they have been tasked with. There are the physical challenges, such as working with wild animals, difficult terrain, heat, high risk of malaria, and tsetse flies which sting like mad and leave welts all over the body. The rangers leave their families for months at a time and need to work well with a small group of men. The highlights are for the men to do their job properly — catching poachers, clearing lines of snares before they’ve trapped any animals, protecting the environment from trees being cut down, being in these beautiful places and having close interactions with nature.
“I called the series Wildlife War because it is quite literally a war out there, and it is getting worse. Poachers are armed with AK-47s, hunting rifles, muzzle loaders, spears, and bows with poison arrows. The anti-poaching teams work in remote regions, often being shot at. In 2015, a helicopter doing conservation surveillance was shot down by poachers and the pilot was killed. There have been a number of cases where game scouts and rangers have been killed in the line of duty. Like a war, both sides are funded — the poachers by meat and tusk buyers and the rangers by conservation donor-funding.”
“Conservation does not get the funding and support it needs to keep up with the constant encroachment and threat to what is left of the African bush and wildlife. My aim for this series is to raise awareness on the critical state of conservation in Africa — in Tanzania particularly — and for the dangerous and important work that the rangers do. They are the ones who are prepared to go out day after day and risk everything. It’s the boots on the ground that get the job done.”
Georgina Goodwin is an African documentary photographer specializing in social and environmental issues in Africa. Her work documenting cancer in Kenya was nominated for the Prix Pictet 2015 Award. Georgina teaches photojournalism at the Aga Khan University and is a contributor to Getty Images, Agence France-Presse, Women Photograph and Everyday Climate Change. She has had her work published by The New York Times, Newsweek, Financial Times, among others. She was also one of 20 speakers chosen for TED Talent Search Nairobi 2017. You can follow Georgina’s work on her website, Instagram and Blink.
‘Hijabs & Hoodies’ by Tracy Keza
“Hijabs & Hoodies started as a class project where I photographed and projected images of my friends who are Black, Muslim, or both as I explored the intersection between anti-Blackness and Islamophobia. This portrait series questions the dress code for America and the association of hate crimes between both Black and Muslim communities — not just in America, but around the world. I first created this project out of my frustration in witnessing the global immigration crisis, racial and religious profiling, police brutality, and state-sanctioned violence.”
“Hijabs & Hoodies is a project rooted in collaborative community arts where participants become collaborators, and the large-scale portraits encourage you to investigate, reclaim and subvert the same gaze that deems these communities a ‘threat’. The participants become active collaborators in an “open studio” process. I want these images to evoke an array of emotions depending on who is viewing them.”
“My goal is to keep traveling with this portrait initiative so as to counter violence with more images of real people standing strong in solidarity with one another and resisting these dangerous stereotypes. I want viewers to encounter faces and fabrics that draw a range of reactions depending on who views them. My black-and-white portraits are exhibited either as giant murals or projections — enormous faces with an unavoidable sense of visibility and presence. The larger-than-life portraits demand the viewer’s gaze and attention.”
“My goal is to humanize people impacted by a broken system that continues to disenfranchise and disembody Black and Brown people. This series is rooted in love and solidarity, as well as an attempt to subvert and reclaim the very gaze that has made these garments — and ultimately these communities ’threatening’.”
Hijabs & Hoodies is being incubated by Studio Revolt where Tracy is currently the artist-in-residence. Studio Revolt is a collaborative transnational media lab known for compelling works on many of the social issues that I am addressing in my own work.
Tracy Keza is a Kenyan-born, South Africa and Rwandan-raised photographer currently based in the US. A recent Trinity College graduate, she was introduced to photography while still in college where she minored in studio art. Her work is a cross between fine art and documentary photography that challenges existing stereotypes of the ‘other’. Through her work, she explores notions of identity, oppression, and expression of marginalized communities with a particular interest in societal perceptions and the treatment of Black and Brown people. As an African woman currently living in the US, she is particularly interested in how diaspora communities understand marginalization issues through the lens of intersectionality. You can follow Tracy’s project on her website, Instagram and Blink.
‘Portraying My Father’ by Hilina Abebe
“This project explores my father’s life. I would probably not have thought about doing this project if it was not for the camera I picked up four years ago. In a way, it’s a celebration of my father and the urge to look into his life then and now. It is also a means of finding myself in him. I started this project a year after he survived a major heart condition and the mere realization that I am fortunate to have him around to ask him about his life and tell his story.”
“The project started with a mere portrait I made of him at home in 2016. I started following him around the house and that’s when he asked why I was following him around with a camera. My father loves documenting history and he is very much an oral storyteller in the family, so in a way he understood.”
“It was easy for me to be around him with a camera. Our relationship was not that of a photographer and someone on the other side of the lens. It was still that of a father and daughter.”
“It opened a conversation I had never had with him before, like how he met my mother in high school, or how he felt about my mom when he first saw her, and about his happiest moments and regrets in life. I discovered his roll of films and old cameras I had never seen before which were just left in a box. I went back to the family photos which were kept stacked in a closet in a bid to know more about him.”
“I learned that my father was probably my biggest influence without me knowing it.”
“I ask my father what was the best day of his life. “The day I married your mother,” he replies without hesitation.”
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Hilina Abebe is a self-taught documentary photographer who was influenced by her father’s black-and-white family photographs he made with his Lubitel 2 back in the 60’s and 70’s. Hilina is drawn to documenting social issues which allow her to become more conscious of her environment. Some of her works have been featured on The New York Times Lens Blog. Hilina is an Eddie Adams Workshop XXIX alum. In 2016, she was selected for the World Press Photo East Africa Masterclass and for the New York Times Portfolio Review. She was also a nominee for the 2017 Joop Swart Masterclass. Her work has been exhibited at Photoville, Dak’Art Biennale, as well as Addis Ababa’s Addis PhotoFest. She is a member of Women Photograph, an initiative that launched in 2017 to elevate the voices of female visual journalists. You can follow Hilina’s work on her website, Instagram and Blink.
The African Photojournalism Database is a collaboration of the World Press Photo Foundation and Everyday Africa. The database identifies professional African photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers reporting on cultural, economic, environmental, political and social issues on the continent, as well as sports, nature, and stories of everyday life.
The database better connects local photographers with the global media industry and offers a more diverse representation of the African continent.
To see membership criteria and register, please go to apjd.org. To request the full database, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.