Came across this on the internet today and thought it was special and totally in the spirit of what we talk about here on Vuga!
Duncan McNicholl is a Canadian engineer working with engineers without borders in Malawi and an avid photographer. After returning home from Africa in 2008, he had a strong reaction to the representations of Africans that he saw in the media.
I compared these photos to my own memories of Malawian friends and felt lied to. How had these photos failed so spectacularly to capture the intelligence, the laughter, the resilience, and the capabilities of so many incredible people? […] This is not to say that people do not struggle, far from it, but the photos I was seeing only told part of the story. I thought that these images were robbing people of their dignity, and I felt that the rest of the story should be told as well.
And so he came up with a project he calls “Perspectives of Poverty” in which he photographs Africans both in the stereotypical way that they are represented by the Western media, and the way in which they want to be seen.
A couple of things strike a chord with me in this project. Firstly is that Africans are a proud people. I have an American friend staying with me for a few months and we have a running joke about the fact that he is mostly in shorts, and Ugandans keep making fun of him for it. We like to dress up. From the Christmas day or Easter dress worn to the most rural church, to the women I saw at the African Woman Covergirl competition last weekend, who would fit in perfectly at some schwanky club in Londontown.
We, like all people, want to be perceived as someone with dignity, with class if not with money. Not the way in which the West would want to perceive us, even if it is for a good cause.
The other thing that struck me was how bad us Africans can be at acting.
The idea of these guys actively trying to look impoverished and failing miserably cracks me up.
Go and read the post here for yourself.
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