Photographer's Note

Skifa El Kahla or The Black Passage is a massive fortified gate, the only entrance and remaining part of the original Fatimid walled city of Mahdia. In the past, Mahdia was regarded as the piracy stronghold and this justifies the strong fortifications surrounding the city. This gate was one of the several gates within the huge walls surrounding the city and almost all of it was destroyed by the Spanish in 1554.

The passage is not only visually attractive, but also perhaps the best explanation to the patterns of Tunisian sea ports. Travelling around the country, we cannot avoid noticing that most sea ports are set in a hundred meters or so from the sea. Only very rarely are the towns built along the shore. The explanation for this is piracy and foreign navies. Each town was almost like a state and had to defend itself, and by placing the town inland from the shore, the seaborne invaders was stripped off the advantage of their ships. They had to leave their ships, and suddenly they were the weak ones standing in front of high city walls. Mahdia was not built like this, and was a piracy stronghold for centuries. Their defence was therefore city walls thicker than usual. Yet, this was not enough, and since the walls were brought down by the Spanish in the 16th century, Mahdia has mainly been a peaceful fishing port.

The magical air through this Black Passage rendered this elderly woman beggar invisible to the emerging visitors and tourists a like thereby avoiding any uncomfortable thoughts or embarrassment. Wherever we go we find hardship and poverty. This was the first of the Mahdia beggars I came across and I left her some coins following taking some pictures. I hesitated initially in both taking this picture and also uploading it to TE - feeling that in some way we photographers can make use of misery for photographic gain. However, I hope this picture communicates an important story in the hope that her voice is heard through this picture and her story is told, it will somehow relieve the only thing she appears to have left - her soul.

Photo Information
  • Copyright: abmdsudi abmdsudi (abmdsudi) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6680 W: 150 N: 14602] (64343)
  • Genre: People
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2010-12-02
  • Categories: Daily Life
  • Exposure: f/4.2, 1/50 seconds
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2011-02-14 5:37
Viewed: 2875
Points: 42
Additional Photos by abmdsudi abmdsudi (abmdsudi) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6680 W: 150 N: 14602] (64343)
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