Oceans apart – the other side of Tanzania

It’s not really what you think of as Africa, but neither is it the Middle East. The island of Zanzibar, otherwise known as Unguja, is in part its own entity, and the center of Swahili culture in East Africa. In an area of the world where political unrest is not uncommon, it’s a wonder Zanzibar has been in union with the Tanzanian mainland for as long as it has. The Sultanate of Zanzibar, an archipelago nation off the Indian Ocean Coast of East Africa, merged with the East African nation of Tanganyika in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania, a hybrid name reflecting both countries. Earlier that year Zanzibar, a newly independent state itself, experienced a revolution in which over 12,000 ethnic Arabs and Indians on the island were massacred overnight. In the wake of the revolution most of Zanzibar’s wealthy and educated fled the country never to[…]

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Holding their breath in Haiti

While the numbers have yet to be determined, the prognosis is not good in Haiti. When I heard of a possibly catastrophic quake last night, my heart sank. Then came the email from my contact at CARE: “Are you down in Haiti yet Jake? If not are you ready to go?” But instead I’m headed out to West Africa on another shoot with BRAC, and somewhat relieved I won’t be on such an intense, heartbreaking assignment. Port au Prince’s landscape will be forever changed by last night’s earthquake, with everything from the Cathedral de Notre Dame to the Presidential Palace razed. When considering the way most Haitians struggle to get by even without natural disaster, yesterday’s events seem even more unimaginable.

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Shoreculture II: Lake Malawi

More like an ocean, Lake Malawi runs almost the entire length of this Southern African country. I went to one of the least developed parts, the northern town of Karonga, on my way down to a recent assignment shooting Gucci funded UNICEF projects for Marie Claire Magazine.

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Cairo’s World Cup Pre-Fever

It’s a great time to be in Cairo. During my five days here the city has constantly been alive with energy at all hours. On Saturday night Egypt’s Pharaohs won a crucial victory over its bitter rival Algeria. However the winning margin (2-0) was not enough to qualify outright for the World Cup, so the two must face off again in Sudan on Wednesday. Tensions between the two teams are so intense that four members of the Algerian team were injured when their bus was stoned upon entering Cairo on Friday. Most of Cairo’s 20 million residents were huddled around TV screens set up on the city’s sidewalks on Saturday night. Some clamored on car tops or telephone polls to catch a view of the match, returning down to the street to revel during commercial breaks. Once the win was secure the droves crawled from the sidewalks to the city[…]

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KEEPing the rainforest alive – Kenya’s Kakamega Forest Reserve

I was recently in Western Kenya. What was intended to be a quick stopover en route to Uganda turned into four days of rummaging through a rainforest with my camera wrapped in plastic shopping bags. As my “hotel” was without it, I had to hitch a ride on the back of a motorcycle to the nearest place with electricity so I could download images and charge batteries every night. Not too long ago Africa’s midsection was a band of almost solid rainforest, stretching over six million square kilometers from West Africa along the Atlantic, through to the Central African Republic and the DRC, into East Africa. Today, the Guineo-Congolian rainforest, as it is known, is now just a remnant of what it once was, its canopies having suffered the impact of logging, oil and mineral exploration. In the case of the Kakamega Forest, large areas were cleared during colonial times[…]

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Women’s Work

Gender roles are strictly divided in Sub-Saharan Africa – more so here than in any other place I’ve traveled. Women perform most of the tasks here from fetching water, to washing clothes, to taking a child to the hospital. However, few roles are solely set aside for men, except perhaps playing football or napping in the afternoon shade. A breach of code whereby men venture into women’s work is a sore embarrassment and one not to be done publicly. For the majority of those living on this continent life is hard. For women, the burden is harder still.

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Shoreculture – Lake Babati, Tanzania

Lake Babati is one of dozens of water bodies known as the Rift Valley Lakes that span the eastern side of the African Continent from Mozambique to the Red Sea. The lake is the lifeblood of the town of Babati in Central Tanzania. Here people draw their cooking, cleaning, and even drinking water. Cattle feast along the densely vegetated shorelines beside women from nearby villages washing clothes. The lake is also home to abundant wildlife including fish, prawns, eels, hippos and many species of water bird. Like the diverse wildlife found in the lake, Babati is a melting pot for Tanzania’s various tribes. On a given day one may find members of the Masai, Barabaig, Iraqw, Irangi and Man’gati tribes laboring along the shores of the lake or harvesting its fruits from within. However, the tranquil balance between man and nature has shifted as overuse of the lake’s resources have[…]

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On the Road… Kondoa District

Beginning a week ago, I’ve left my “desk” for a road trip across East Africa to shoot for myself for a little while. I began where I live in the Kilimanjaro Region and have headed South-West, into Central Tanzania. I don’t have too much of a plan but hope to end up somewhere in Uganda. Highlights from the first few days, in Kondoa District, are below. My bus broke down toward the end of the journey to Kondoa, prompting me to walk for two hours to the next town. Various stages of dinner:

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Holy Ghost Power

The Spirit was unbridled on Sunday down at the Huduma ya Ephata, where I sometimes attend services. I prefer a quieter, more contemplative service and it’s not usually quite this charismatic. However, when the Spirit descends you’ve got to, sometimes literally, roll with it.

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