Mal d’Afrique the French call it- a disease of sorts, a deep longing to return back to the source of life; a difficult and challenging concept which can only be understood by those who have been blessed (or cursed) to experience it. Born and raised East African, I feel constantly pulled towards Africa, an almost visceral emotion which eats at me when I am away from home.
This work is an ongoing project dating back to 2004 when shooting film was still a thing and I was blessed to roam the savannah carefree. At the time I was conducting ethnolinguistic fieldwork (PhD research) amongst a group of people known as the Hadzabe. The Hadzabe are considered Africa’s last true hunter-gatherers, living in the land surrounding Lake Eyasi in Northern Tanzania.
The Hadzabe exist in small groups pursuing a semi-nomadic lifestyle and have a rich and complex culture: skilled, knowledgeable and imaginative. Their food is obtained by hunting, exclusively with a bow and arrow; they collect the honey of wild bees; berries and other fruits, from a wide variety of vegetation and edible roots. They speak Hadzane, a language isolate, unrelated to any other with a rich consonant inventory that includes clicks and ejective stops, or pops. Despite their incredible resourcefulness, they find themselves facing a precarious future.
My favourite journey is the one that takes me back to Africa for its immense natural beauty, cultural diversity and above all, the spirit of its people. My hope is that my visual story can bring across the tenacity and spirit of the Hadzabe and the respect and affection that I hold for them. Some of the people I photographed over the years have passed away. May this also be a testament to the legacy that they leave behind and a beacon of hope for the future.