These are the children of LUC (Let Us Change), a small community in Hawassa (Ethiopia) founded on the principles of Ubuntu.
For them, I held an educational workshop where — under the guidance of Elisa Amati, Seppe Hendrickx, and Antonio Amato — they learned to build and use a pinhole camera.
Later, after taking the photographs, they also learned to develop and print them. The images were then used to produce art objects and prints as well as to illustrate an article about Ubuntu (that you can see here).
Though my job is mostly about photographing human beings and communities, this guy really deserved a portrait. I think he (yes, it is a “he”) could teach a lot about how to boost self-confidence in spite of our physical appearance.
This bird is called marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) and it is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in Africa south of the Sahara, in both wet and arid habitats, often near human habitation, especially landfill sites. It is sometimes called the “undertaker bird” due to its shape from behind: cloak-like wings and back, skinny white legs, and sometimes a large white mass of “hair”.
The marabou stork is a frequent scavenger, and the naked head and neck are adaptations to this livelihood, as it is with the vultures with which the stork often feeds. In both cases, a feathered head would become rapidly clotted with blood and other substances when the bird’s head was inside a large corpse, and the bare head is easier to keep clean.
This large and powerful bird eats mainly carrion, scraps, and faeces but will opportunistically eat almost any animal matter it can swallow. It occasionally eats other birds including quelea nestlings, pigeons, doves, pelican and cormorant chicks, and even flamingos.
During the breeding season, adults scale back on carrion and take mostly small, live prey since nestlings need this kind of food to survive. Common prey at this time may consist of fish, frogs, insects, eggs, small mammals and reptiles such as crocodile hatchlings and eggs, and lizards and snakes. Though known to eat putrid and seemingly inedible foods, these storks may sometimes wash food in water to remove soil.
When feeding on carrion, marabou frequently follow vultures, which are better equipped with hooked bills for tearing through carrion meat and may wait for the vultures to cast aside a piece, steal a piece of meat directly from the vulture or wait until the vultures are done.
As with vultures, marabou storks perform an important natural function by cleaning areas via their ingestion of carrion and waste. Increasingly, marabous have become dependent on human garbage and hundreds of the huge birds can be found around African dumps or waiting for a hand out in urban areas.
Marabous eating human garbage have been seen to devour virtually anything that they can swallow, including shoes and pieces of metal. Marabous conditioned to eating from human sources have been known to lash out when refused food
Seblewongel Getachew (Seble) is an Ethiopian anthropologist specialized in working for (and with) tribal people in Omo Valley. After some years spent with the Surma people she has been adopted from them. She operates beetween South Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.
Lake Turkana, Kenya — This is me while realizing — in the exact moment when this photograph was shot (by Seble) — that a hippo was under our boat. In such moments there is nothing you can do apart staying still and silent. We were at its mercy and — knowing how hippos can be testy and brutal when it comes to defending their territory and their young — we could only hope for the best.
Though hippos occasionally spar with crocodiles, a growing number of skirmishes are with humans. Hippos have trampled or gored people who strayed too near, dragged them into lakes, tipped over their boats, and bitten off their heads. In facts, many Africans regard hippos as the continent’s most dangerous animal. Although accurate numbers are hard to come by, lore has it that hippos kill more people each year than lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos combined.
Lake Chamo, Ethiopia — Definitely, this was scariest moment in my life. In my professional life I have been dealing with many dangers — conflicts, police beating, ocean storms, epic motorbike crashes, etc — but, definitely, this was the scariest moment ever.
While I was attempting to photograph it, this 4+ meter-long Nile crocodile didn’t appreciate my art and, suddenly (it was fast!), attacked me. Sorry for the out-of-focus blurred photo…
I had the pleasure of spending a day with Claire Le Fur – one of the most famous French harpists, also known for her social commitment around the world — at the multi-purpose center Blein Center, one of the projects I support in Ethiopia. Here the children of the center’s elementary school — who apply the didactic method of Maria Montessori – practiced for hours, without ever getting tired, with the traditional Breton music…