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Photographer's Note

This is a photo I post with much hesitation. It is a scan from a Kodachrome slide, but obviously I had some problems with the exposure and it was difficult to make a decent copy. After doing my best to adjust the light and colours and to clean noisy areas (just about everything) I decided to show it because it has a nostalgic value to me.

I took this photo in the winter of 1983, during the same journey as my last photo from Egypt. It is registered here as being from Sudan, which it was at that time, but this city of Malakal is since 2011 part of the republic of South Sudan, recognized as an independent country by most governments of the world and the United Nations, but not by TrekEarth. ;-)

I was heading south from the capital Khartoum. Traveling through northern Sudan was complicated and time-consuming, but I managed to get on an unscheduled flight to Malakal in the northern part of the South. I spent a half day and a night in this city on the White Nile before proceeding south, to the main city of Juba, with a tradesman driving a truck with various goods.

I have no particular memory of taking this photo, but I can't see it without getting sad and wondering what could have happened to these boys. I always get such thoughts when looking at children I photographed decades ago, but in this case it is even more relevant to wonder what could have happened.

Only a few months later civil war broke out in Sudan and lasted for 22 years. After a few years of uneasy peace South Sudan gained independence in 2011, only to find itself in a new civil war two years later. In spite of a peace treaty being signed last year fighting is going on and the civilian population is suffering terribly. Malakal has seen some of the worst fighting and most atrocities, being one of the centers of the country's potentially very lucrative oil industry.

So, what happened to the smiling boys, possibly having their photo taken for the very first time? Are they still alive, now in their 40's? Are they members of any of the rag-tag militias marauding the country, did they flee to a refugee camp in the north? Please don't suggest I should go back to try to find out. Nothing could convince me to make such a journey today.

As a workshop I have posted a photo from downtown Malakal.

Here is a larger version of the main photo.

You can see a very approximate location of this photo at the Map: view.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9613 W: 511 N: 18677] (82722)
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