Do a good photo deed for young women in Burundi
Buy a photographic print and give 50% to the woman’s education and family. Here is why and how!
Let me introduce to you Alberthine – “Tina” – Ndayishimiye who was born in 1991. She studies communication at the Lac Tanganyika University in Bujumbura, the capital of tiny, beautiful Burundi. I met her for the first time this summer and there are now 9 photos of her on my photo homepage.
Tina # 4, Bujumbura, Burundi 2012
© Jan Oberg 2012
Tina is a very proud personality. She studies with diligence and finances her life by working evenings at a hotel reception. She is smart – no one has ever asked me so many and good questions about photography and business. She has not done photography before but as you’ll see right away she is stunning – with natural beauty, expressive face and a fine ability to just be herself and forget that I am there. Thus she is so easy to work with.
Many people don’t know where this little country is. It is south of Rwanda and one of the countries at the huge Lake Tanganyika. I’ve worked in Burundi since 1999 to promote reconciliation and peace after the genocide in the 1990s with non-governmental organizations (particularly two youth organizations), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a private university.
During longer stays I spend my spare time with eight female university students and a group of former street boys. We go to places, take pictures and learn a lot about each other. And we laugh a lot.
Tina # 9, Bujumbura, Burundi 2012
© Jan Oberg 2012
This is not model photography
These young women are by no means models – or, at least were not, when I started taking pictures of them in 2009. Most have no experience of being photographed. I ask them to decide the location, their clothes, make-up, if any, and how they want to appear and express themselves. The moment I – a muzungu = white man – would begin to tell them what to do and how to act, the natural beauty and spontaneity would be gone.
Arielle of whom you can find 5 photos on my homepage was totally new to photography when I took her picture. But a few month later she enrolled in the Miss Burundi contest – and won.
While I don’t think beauty can be ranked and I don’t, in principle, like that sort of contest for a variety of reasons, I must admit that her success made me happy.
Arielle # 5, Bujumbura, Burundi 2012
© Jan Oberg 2012
Counter images of Africa
I don’t do model photography, fashion photos or advertising. I don’t like the coolness and hard superficiality of it today. I try to portray human beings in a natural way. Should my pictures of these women one day be found and used in advertising, it is fine with us – but it is not the prime motive.
I take pictures in Burundi – also other people, villages, and the incredibly beautiful landscape – to show the strength and pride of people I meet. I seek to promote counter-images to the typical Western image of Africa as a lost, dark, hopeless continent. War, corruption, AIDS and poverty only makes up a fraction of today’s African reality.
Why you should buy these photos and give 50% to the woman’s education and family…
Many foreign photographers pay those they take pictures of a one-time honorarium and may then sell their works at many times that honorarium in a fashionable gallery back home. I don’t. I think that’s a colonial attitude, not fair trade.
Instead, I don’t pay a honorarium when the pictures are taken but each woman is entitled to get 50 percent of what I sell for as long as we have a contract with each other. Over the years that will be a much better deal for them; if I sell more or my prices go up, they will benefit equally.
Thus over time I hope to make a contribution towards their study fees and families and get them attracted to start businesses and remain independent instead of just becoming a housewife in a society with so much male dominance and sexual violence.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries with an average annual income per capita of about US $ 250 – so, relatively speaking, the income from my photos may generate quite good sum there. I ask you to consider that too!
A camera is so much more than a tool for depicting reality. Sometimes it’s a bridge between people and cultures. Perhaps even a tool for peace…
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