Africa Revisited

Interior of a car rapide, Medina, Dakar. I enjoy traveling locally when I want to see the city. It is a great equalizer. No class distinctions; we are all equally crammed inside. A single ride is usually 100-150 CFA which amounts to a quarter of a dollar. Personal space, n'existe pas. You think there is no more room for another... think again. I often pick a route, get off when something looks interesting, and then walk. What I tend to find are communities in transition.

Chechaya Road, Tele-Bole, Addis Ababa. The night-clubs haven't opened yet. Midnight would still be too early. I use the term night-club very loosely here. These are pick-up bars where men pretend to go for a drink. The menu will often be in Amharic so be careful what you order. If the bartender doesn't like you, he may refuse to speak English. But you'll always find someone to help you spend your money, and perhaps a little time.

Mbabane, Swaziland for UNICEF. I was covering acute malnutrition programs run by UNICEF. At the time, Swaziland had an HIV population of 38%. Special hospitals were designated for treating orphans. These school girls maintain a local garden, growing fresh vegetables and some fruits. Soon they may be forced to leave school and marry early. AID agencies are working to give young men and women more options for their future.

Brooklyn Carnival, Eastern Parkway. Every Labor Day the caribbean communities of New York City converge on the wide avenues of Eastern Parkway with their sound systems and Mas Camp costumes. It is a decadent display of skin and thongs which should not be missed. My buddy Bill and I have been photographing carnival for over 15 years. And in that time we have watched the costumes evole from less feathers to more thongs. I even think they made a song about it.

Many AID agencies encourage macro-economic partnerships for young women. Plan Sénégal had me visit numerous sites outside Dakar to photograph successful projects and the young women whom they employ. Embroidery and tailoring garments is a tradition often occupied by men. But girls today are moving away from domestic house-keeping chores and branching out towards financial independence.

Camps Bay, Cape Town. There is no geographic justice in the world. The fact is some countries are rich with minerals and agriculture and others are not. Fissures in the ground, proximity to the equator, whether or not a country is land-locked from the sea, all play a role in a country's devlopment. For all it's money, South Africa remains a country divided. Glass apartments built on green hillsides often overlook squat shanty towns teeming with congestion and minimal services. Citizens are born equal but endure inequality.

You may think you know this location from a Mission Impossible episode: Atlas Mountains, Morocco. But I believe it was filmed elsewhere. What strikes me about this space is its distance to neighboring villages and what a chore it must be to travel. Here, water is scarce, air is thinner, and temperatures cooler. But the villagers we met love their space and their country. They can trace their families back hundreds of years, often laboring on the same farms. There is pride in identity.

Lalibela, Ethiopia is an architectual marvel. From this vantage point, you would never guess there were rock-hewn churches built undersground. It is only when you appraoch the edge of a cliff and look down that you can see the stone cathedrals. Centries ago, as a community of Orthodox Christians surrounded by Muslim countries, their faith had to be preserved in obscurity. The journey to Jerusalem was rife with danger. Lalibela served as a closer alternative for the faithful to visit and pray.