New rhythms, new hope

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“The revolution was sustained because of the arts. The graffiti needed no words to be explained… people who have no political background, no idea about the issues in Sudan – they were educated by the songs of the revolution.” – Anda, pictured at Mellow Arts Gallery, which she co-manages. 

Flights to and from Khartoum had been cancelled all day, we heard.

Not because of Covid-19, which was yet to stifle travel in most parts of the world – but because of a sandstorm.

It was a Thursday in early March, and my colleague Julie and I were due to fly back to Europe the following day. Back to Europe meant returning to what felt like the eye of another storm: Italy was by now the tragic centre of the coronavirus outbreak, and the rest of the continent wasn’t far behind. Continue reading “New rhythms, new hope”

Take the risk (and the picture)

JumaLearning photography means getting used to being told off – usually, for taking pictures. Sometimes, though, you get in trouble for not taking them.

Working at an aid agency in Dar es Salaam, I was responsible for documenting our fieldwork (and the one with the decent camera). When the heart-sinkingly inevitable time came to attend a funeral – the gardener/groundsman at our head office died after a sudden case of malaria – my colleagues told me: take photos.

Off we went, on a typically humid morning, to Juma’s home. A few hundred people had gathered under the awning. The women sat on the floor and wailed; the men stood or sat on wooden chairs wiping sweat from their brows. Continue reading “Take the risk (and the picture)”