Monday, October 25, 2010

"Take This from Me, You Take My Life"

Tumani (Hope), 38. Tailor
“This sewing machine is all I could take with me. It was heavy, difficult to carry, but I couldn’t leave it behind. This sewing machine feeds my eight children and me. If someone were to take this from me, they would be taking my life.”

I saw this image on Amayel’s blog. Amayel (not her real name) is a woman after my own heart, she's a peace advocate, likes fashion, reads, is a thinker, and I love her blog! She writes a lot about African politics, muslim issues, and everything in between, like me. She is very well-rounded. I am definitely a follower.

Anyway, this photo really hit me. This is how I am feeling more and more about my sewing machine. It has really provided me a way of contributing to my household as well as participating, in my own way, in this thing we call fashion. I cannot compare my situation at all with Tumani's but Tumani, I am with you, take this and you take my life!

Now, for a little background: this photo was part of portrait photographer Rankin's latest exhibition which focused on survivors of the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The exhibition, called From Congo with Love, opened in February in London's South Bank. It was a collaboration between charity Oxfam and the man who has previously photographed Kate Moss and the Queen.

Eastern Congo is one of the most violent places in the world. Two million people have been made refugees and live with host families who take them into their tiny shacks. Rankin said: "My style of portraiture is about bringing people out of themselves, getting them to share something. I chose to photograph the people against a white background instead of in their physical environment. "The expressions in their eyes and on their faces - their humanity - was what I wanted people to notice and relate to."

Here are some other images:

Furaha Vumilia, 65. Basket maker
“It takes two weeks to make a basket – but it only sells for 260 francs (25p). How can you work for two weeks to make 25p? I fled when the war came. People were throwing bombs into our houses. I was living with my son. He and his wife were killed. I fled with my two grandsons. One is 15 and the other 13. They are orphans now.”

Rehema Buera, 52. Restaurant owner
“I lost my husband and four of my children because of this war. After the attack, there were dead bodies everywhere in my village. I found the dead bodies of my husband and my four eldest children – all shot in the head. That day, 175 people from my village were murdered.”

Banza Masamba, 47. Hairdresser
“There are 24 of us in the camp, living in four small huts. The worst moment in my life is right now. We want peace. That’s all. Peace so that we can go back home. We want you people to talk to the politicians and ask them to stop this war.”

Wow. I'm speechless.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, is right. Thanks for this post. The more light that shines on the Congo the better.