Thursday, August 25, 2011

Invited in - to an African home.

In Africa for a few days, I stopped by the neighborhood just down the street from where I work to drop off some photographs from the year before.

I was welcomed warmly as always, and kids dragged me off to their house to take pictures there.  It's a very nice house and fairly new in the neighborhood.  The family is doing well financially.

(click on the photos for a larger view)

The youngsters (above) wait on the porch; the older girls (left) wait on the stairs for a photo before escorting me in.  They've been in dozens of photos over the years.

Inside the home (right), simple construction is visible.  Folks may have some help when building their house, but most of the work is done by family members (meaning the men, of course.)

Kids bring out toys to show.   And pose.  In this particular neighborhood, it's part of the relationship we've developed; I'm the photographer/historian for pretty much all the families.

Aunts and moms try to corral the kids who've gotten a little rowdy for the occasion. There's a soccer ball in the air off camera.  :)  Poses follow here and there.  It requires a bit of effort to make the visit about more than just the photography.  Conversation is fun, brief, and back to pictures.

As we make our exit, a crowd of kids has gathered just in case there are more pictures to be taken.  There are, of course; over 400 in the neighborhood over the couple of days I was there.  I'll deliver prints for them, perhaps next year.

Fun folks, all of them, every time I visit.  Gracious, polite, hospitable, easy to relax with (when the kids aren't dragging you around to see their house, see their dog, see the puppies, see my grandmother, take my picture!)

Father and daughter, wonderful folks
 and gracious every time I visit.
This particular neighborhood and my relationship to them is an interesting counterpoint to the typical tourist.  It's bad manners to take pictures without asking, of course.  A car load of white folks snapping a bunch of pictures of Africans is just too rude to describe.  On the other hand, I brought one photo, nicely framed, for the mother of a kid I'd photographed on the beach (the Artist), and within a few hours, I was community property.  I've been back a dozen times, delivering pictures and taking more at their request.  I have to really work at making time for conversation with individuals between being dragged from place to place. 

I'm not bothered by their demands at all; I'm thankful to have the chance to relate to them, especially the older members of the community, and particularly the fathers like these fellows here.  They've taught me so much in the last few years, things I'd not have known if I'd followed the common path.

Grandma attempt to organize the cousins ...
June '12, back again, and with pictures to deliver, of course.  Kids I've known over the years clown around for the camera yet one more time.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost