This is Goundam, a small town in northern Mali, about 6-7 hours' journey from Timbuktu along very bumpy roads.
During the winter of 1982 I spent a month in Mali, including about a week in the remote north where conditions today are chaotic. The state has collapsed and a large area is run by fanatic militias who are doing their best to destroy society and ruin the culture.
In 1982 Mali was run by the military, as most other West African countries in those days, but it was a rather "soft" dictatorship. The atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly. The north, however, was extremely poor, about the worst I have ever seen, along with South Sudan.
I spent a day and a night in Goundam, just to catch a flight, and although I got a room at a municipal hostel I didn't find anything to eat. There were no restaurants or even simple cafés and in the market I only saw chunks of meat covered in dust and surrounded by flies, onions and half rotten tomatoes. Cigarettes and candy, on the other hand, were readily available.
As evening fell I was sitting on the porch of the hostel, not feeling very happy. I had barely managed to quench my thirst after boiling water straight from the river, but I was desperately hungry. Then finally the caretaker offered me a bowl of rice with some vegetables, the leftovers of his family's dinner. The day was saved and the next day I could fly back to civilization further south.
Regarding this photo I have, as usual, no particular memory of it. Only that I have scanned it from a Kodachrome slide. And I just noticed that it is the first picture from Goundam on TE. Why on earth didn't anyone else go here?
Critiques | Translate
saxo042 (35810) 2013-01-19 7:44
Man känner sig nästan förflyttad tillbaka till ett annat århundrade här. En mycket bra och synnerligen "vältimad" bild. Det lilla man ser av moskén i bakgrunden antyder ju en rätt välutvecklad byggnadsteknik men det gör ju inte huset i förgrunden. Jag roade mig med att titta på satellitbilden på Google Maps över Goundam och uppfattar ju detta som en relativt stor stad. Men någon restaurang kunde jag inte hitta... Detta är nog den mest unika och intressanta bild jag sett här på TE på länge.
rmajum (1081) 2013-01-19 7:45
A very timely post about the place in headlines today. The write up gives a fair insight into the place, especially your plight in those days.
Although, pretty old, this scanned picture is a sharp one with good exposure and natural colour. You captured part of a religious place in the background, but the ruins in the fg probably has a history to tell.
NB. Its a great fete to have presented pictures from, (I counted) 70 countries... a real Traveller.Thanks.
Kamilutka (6655) 2013-01-19 7:49
very nicely captured interesting architecture and scene from every day life. I like the composition of your photo as well as POV you chose. Colors are warm and natural and you managed the light very well.
Thanks for sharing!
ourania (22744) 2013-01-19 7:50
the scene we are watching in this frame is very exotic and intriguing. It captivates our attention for long as we are trying to take in the unfamiliar setting and the scene from daily life in it. The light, colour and contrast management give to the image a very special allure, the depth and the textures are captivating as well. I like very much the descriptive power of the shadows and how the man in the green robe stands out against one of them. Your note is fascinating too. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a lovely weekend,
jhm (131840) 2013-01-19 7:50
A pity that religions this lovely part of country make totally broken.
Your picture 1982 almost 30 year old, but the people are very happy, and live in own pace, what now with this lovely country!
I love truly your nice picture .
Colors and sharpness be superb.
Excellent composition, nice presentation too.
Very well done, TFS.
Have a nice weekend,
batalay (34109) 2013-01-19 8:18
The peaceful scene belies the chaos sweeping Mali. I recognize the structure in the background to these mud brick walls. I believe deeply in secular government, and that applies to all religions! There has been more blood shed in the Kingdom of God than in all other kingdoms!
yquem46 (38082) 2013-01-19 9:11
Another oldie that I like
Maybe these 2 guys now have guns and fight for some religious argument
I'm afraid that this world is going more and more crazy
Have a nice WE, best regards
eldancer1 (23081) 2013-01-19 9:45
It's very sad situation in Mali and Algiers right now, I believe war is so unnecessary and such a waste of human life and resources. Why can't we all get along? Nice capture of this peaceful village and a good contrast between old and new buildings. Good lighting and dof with sharp details. Well done, tfs.
dta (60201) 2013-01-19 10:15
Hello Gunnar ,
I suppose that the actual events in Mali have taken to you the idea to look at in your archives . What a great oldie ! The composition is both beautiful and interesting , as your note .
mesutilgim (76776) 2013-01-19 10:29
Hello dear Gert,
Again a perfect "oldie" from Mali with very good light and layout.
Nice contrast betwenn the white building at back and the mudbrick houses in foreground.
Perfect scan quality, many interesting notes.
Africa the black continent is still a chestn with many question marks. On the other hand I am not quite shure if there are much differences within this passed 30 years !
TFS and have a nice weekend
pajaran (45522) 2013-01-19 12:01
Dobar tekst i secanje ...
Dobar rad skeniranjem, lepa fotografija.
Prijatno vece i sve najbolje za vikend.
Ostalo je samo secanje.
Good text and memory ...
Good work by scanning, beautiful images.
Good evening and all the best for the weekend.
The rest is just a memory.
dale54 (5927) 2013-01-19 14:00
gert hello,wonderfull note for this pic of yours.this is a beautifull scene,love the color contrast! simply love it! tfs.. dr
lousat (68565) 2013-01-19 16:01
Hi Gert,magnificent memory of 80eens,perfect work on your scannering process and i hope a message of peace too in these difficult days for this unlucky country. Have a nice Sunday and thanks,Luciano
worldcitizen (6127) 2013-01-19 19:36
Great shot from the past. I like the traditional architecture and the people and animals in the foreground. It is interesting to see a photo from someplace that has not been represented before here on TE. Thank you for sharing your previous travels with us, and allowing us to see these amazing sights.
ACL1978 (7323) 2013-01-19 19:42
I wish I had your travel, resume, Gert. And I'm very glad you've posted this, given recent events. The setting is amazing, with the white mosque (I assume?) rising over the partial ruins. Perfect human elements, adding brighter color and a really nice sense of the lifestyle here. Thanks for this one - hopefully you have more!
siolaw (37644) 2013-01-19 22:33
A timely post and an almost "historic" view... Quality is fine and the scene telling a lot about the local way of life...
jjcordier (70549) 2013-01-19 23:07
Une intéressante photo témoignage qui accompagne cette note. On pense fortement ā tous les habitants du pays qui doivent subir toutes ces atrocités, espérant qu'un jour leur situation puisse redevenir normale!
bayno (18340) 2013-01-20 1:45
my compliment for this delicious shot...a perfect scann too, the light was fantastic and the scene very intesessing with the strong contrast in the BG, perfect framing too...realy nice work...
Royaldevon (24324) 2013-01-20 3:18
You paint a picture of extreme hardship. It would seem impossible for it to get worse, yet it does!
Your photograph captures a scene which could have been taken centuries ago - had cameras been available!
A wonderful journalistic shot, full of depth and raw emotion.
Thank you for sharing this.
Have a lovely Sunday,
Fis2 (79798) 2013-01-20 3:44
Interesting photo from your archive.
Good frame and superb colors.
I like light and shadow.
UlfE (14599) 2013-01-20 3:55
En väldigt spännande och välkomponerad. Väldigt bra timing med pojken i förgrunden mitt i stegen och åsnan och mannen synliga i sin helhet bortom honom. Pojken är också perfekt placerad. Byggnaderna i bakgrunden är en kanonbakgrund. Tack och ha en bra söndagseftermiddag!
Nicou (111328) 2013-01-20 7:32
quelle compo et image superbe captage quelle maison avec ce personnage qui marche fantastique vue et cetz édifice blanc qui ressort au sommet génial.
Bravo et amitié
macjake (49318) 2013-01-20 8:19
well, thats quiet the story!
I know this is a poor area, but is food really THAT scarce! wow!
Sometimes we need to take a step back and truly appreciate what we have - seriously!
another wicked photo for TE gert!
cultural in so many ways, love the attire, the people, the architecture...all of it.
nikkitta (11142) 2013-01-20 9:54
Peaceful times in Mali, always wars about religion are very hard
This old photo is quite fascinating , it shows architecture and daily live with true colors
Like the POV chosen by you
Quite impressed by the quantity of countries you have visited
Adding you to my favorites ( and very restricted list )
ktanska (23442) 2013-01-20 10:25
Your extensive experience of Northern Africa relates well to recent news on this picture. This gives a good idea of a last place before vast Sahar desert. Life goes on struggling, clay built buildings seem to crumble down but the mosque stands proudly. Good contrasty sidelight too.
dkmurphys (44617) 2013-01-21 7:27
Nice capture of the life of once was, more peacefully. I saw on tv about the war there, is hust another common thing now if I may exagerate a little bit.
Have a fine evening.
wolf38 (29804) 2013-01-21 22:39
Hello Gert. Here you show an older and yet very recent photo. The crumbling buildings in the foreground and behind the mosque are well combined. The involvement of the people in the picture gives the scene a face. Very informative and lively text. Let's hope that the country can be pacified again.
abmdsudi (36320) 2013-01-22 6:55
I think this image is almost synonymous to Africa, unfriendly and hostile rugged territory. What an adventure you had experienced complemented by your excellent notes. A typical village scene and the abandoned crumbling mud house filling much of the frame in natural earth tones with good inclusion of people arround mingling about daily life giving the overall impression of this place. What so appealing is the glow of warm light and framing gives it a deeper feel into the distance and interestngly there is a wonderful stark contrast to the newly built white mosque sitting isolated to draw attention. This is an attractive shot from distant land full of essence of local life and culture, an absorbing image though and lovely the way you have taken in the whole scene. I think it adds to the impact of the picture which is timely caught and imho, it's the wonderful subtle glow that does wonder here. Well done, Congrats, TFS
Kielia (22293) 2013-01-22 7:29
you are presenting another fantastic oldie! And a very interesting note is accompanying this fascinating image of an almost desolated place. The perspective is excellent, my compliments!
notrap (5296) 2013-01-23 2:37
das ist mal wieder ein Spitzen-Beitrag aus Deinem Archiv, begleitet von einem Text, der das Foto noch wertvoller macht. 30 Jahre alt und trotzdem heute sehenswert! Die Scanqualität finde ich nicht so überragend wie bei manch anderen Deiner Fotos, durch die Bemühungen, in die intensiven Schatten noch etwas Zeichhnung zu bekommen, sind sie grünstichig geworden. Das läßt sich aber leicht beheben.
adores (32694) 2013-01-23 18:02
I'm really happy that you're posting this old one!It's a really nice and peaceful scene in a very remote region. I like the old architecture and mosque and specially the two boys and donkey. The place must be different by now but not so peaceful anymore. Good quality shot!
emka (68624) 2013-01-26 12:58
Hi Gert, I am so envious, you visited so many countries and not just for a short time, as a tourist, but you had an opportunity to see real life. Not nice memories to be so hungry, but you remember it! Such moments are also precious later. What a shot! The same view could be hundred years ago, or even earlier. Very exotic looking mosque behind. there many much more civilized places that no one goes. Who goes to Mali??
boa (5436) 2013-01-29 13:18
intressant historia och upplevelse du hadde i Norra Mali. Just nu är det väl ganska turbelent i området men jag antar att det fortfarande är mycket fattigt här? Jag tycker att detta är en av dina bättre bilder på länge. Inte bara en utmärkt komposition och ljus, men också en intressant plats och historia. Kanske kan vara ett resemål för mig om nåt år..
mkamionka (28422) 2013-01-29 13:49
you are indeed so lucky to visit places which nobody (from TE) seen before. I would love to visit this many places but I cannot. What I admire here again is the incredible quality of the picture I would not guess that it is so old. My photos taken 20 years later are already quite bad.
Thanks for sharing your amazing collection.
Angshu (53982) 2013-01-31 1:44
Yet once more one of the treasures you've dug out for us! This is an amazing picture & the quality of scan is excellent. The mud baked houses looks pretty much in ruin, but the side light brings out a strong element of 3D with the sharp shadows. The mosque in the backend doesn't look like made of mud. Excellent shot!
fotka (2923) 2013-02-01 6:49
It is a right photo at this moment when the newspapers are full of bad news from this African country.
Great shot of daily life with interesting architecture and people. As an old photo it has great quality with nice colors, light and sharpness. Very interesting note.
annjackman (16843) 2013-02-05 9:01
A topical subject. How nice to see this 30 year old photo. You show the simple life in this place very well. Even though a scan there is plenty of detail with lovely light and shadows - TFS.
Kind Regards, Ann
COSTANTINO (47700) 2013-02-07 11:32
your gallery is a real tresor
I can travel all over the world
learning tradition and way of living
of other people,thanks for your help
Glint (5989) 2013-02-11 7:16
hello Gert, your notes accompanyng your photos are always of great interest, adding depth to alkready interesting pictures.Certainly having nothing to eat gives us all pause for thought. As for the photo, I find the contrast between the bright, whote mosque in the bg and the rumbling ruin interesting on more than one lleve. And of course the boy in the fg is well placing adding more interest.
Apologies for not keeping up with your posts these days. I have not been posting either. I retire in april so hope to be more active.
serp2000 (35776) 2013-02-14 5:04
Good presentation of the peaceful days in the Northern Mali. Attractive document photo, good composition, perfect quality for scanned picture. Poor land...
And experts can't say about finish of that horror.
fabbs99 (14461) 2013-02-14 23:04
Impressive shot of the dusty village.Great sharpness and contrast.Nice natural colors colors.Very well shot.TFS.
ikeharel (48330) 2013-02-26 8:53
An amazing old stuff, show this country not seen often on TE, Gert.
The white modern mosque, "rises" from behinde the mud-huts people live in, and this is a contrast not only on architecture's and colors - but a contrast of civilization's way of living.
Beautiful photo uploaded, Cong.'s.
ebingul (1874) 2013-03-10 13:26
This is a great capture like the ones we see in NG magazine.Beautiful composition and colours.Your notes are very interesting as well but I must confess that I wouldn't want to be in your shoes in this remote and uncivilized place.TFS and best regards.