Photographer's Note

In the winter of 1981–1982 I spent four months in West Africa. I started my journey in Algiers, crossed the Sahara desert and stayed for almost three months in the Sahel region – Niger, Burkina Faso (then known as Upper Volta, la Haute Volta) and Mali, before traveling along the Atlantic coast, eventually ending up in Lagos, Nigeria, where I caught a flight back home.

Parts of the Sahel region, on the southern fringe of the Sahara, are today regarded as one of the world's most dangerous areas. But in 1982 I can honestly say it was one of the world's safest areas. In those three months i didn't have one single upsetting or dangerous incident. No thefts, no harassments. I travelled through areas of the most miserable poverty I have ever seen, but nothing was ever stolen from me.

Most people I met, using local transports and staying in very basic hotels, were incredibly kind and helpful, making me feel strangely at home in this very different environment, in a way that is hard to explain.

These smiling children I met briefly in the city of Mopti in central Mali may be fairly representative of my experiences during this journey. There is another Mopti smile in a workshop.

I have shown many photos from this journey earlier, but now I have tried to rediscover some forgotten pictures that didn't make it into TE before. I may occasionally show new versions of photos where I got the colours all wrong the first time. I will not go chronologically through my journey but jump here and there across the continent.

These photos were scanned from Kodachrome slides. Here is a larger version,

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9509 W: 508 N: 18500] (82088)
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