Saturday 10 October 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, October 9, 2020

A striking picture of wild fires in Lebanon from Mohamed Azakir, the silhouetted trees giving a sense of scale against the raging fires and night skies. 

Wildfires burn a forest in Chbaniyeh village, Lebanon October 9, 2020.  REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir 

Thomas Mukoya captures the moment Liban Abdullah Omar reacts to his acquittal of involvement in the Westgate attack. As the tear is wiped away he looks across the picture frame into the space left by the empty seat. This space creates a sense of momentary calm and quiet. I love the way his other hand is delicately holding another tissue. What I would like to make disappear is the white square to the left but crop it out and the image loses its shape. Read on here.  

Liban Abdullah Omar reacts after he was acquitted at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

We are left in no doubt by Mike Hutching’s picture that this is about – anti-corruption. The black bold letters scream out against the reds of the banners, adding to the noise of the shouting likely coming from the open mouth. In fact this picture is so noisy we hardly notice the quite acute angle of the tilt as Mike composes his frame.    

Members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) carry placards as the take part in a nationwide strike over issues including corruption and job losses in Cape Town, South Africa, October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

Zohra builds her picture up by using the framing of the black gates, the centrally placed minaret and a low angle to let the figures play into the stage she has composed. This feeling of stage may also be enhanced by the bright reds, greens and yellows worn by the “actors” as they move into the setting.    

A faithful stands with hand sanitiser at the entrance of the Great Mosque as hundreds of thousands of Senegalese Mouride Brotherhood pilgrims gather for the annual Grand Magal festival, as the global spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in the holy city of Touba, Senegal October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

You have to work hard to look into the shadows of Essam al-Sudani’s picture through the glare of the flames to see what is going on. Once you do, you are a little too visually exhausted to be met with the sad vision of three boys playing in the fumed-filled air among the rubbish on the ground.  

Children play with flames rising from oil refinery pipes in the background in Basra, Iraq July 23, 2020.  REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani 

As far as the eye can see bricks and more bricks make up a smoky, desolate landscape captured by Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen. The sun beats down to bleach all colour from the picture as we are drawn to the single focal point of the figure labouring away, with that set between the two other secondary features in the picture, the chimneys spewing smoke.  

An Iraqi labourer works as a brick factory's chimney belches out smoke in Najaf, Iraq September 22, 2020. Picture taken September 22, 2020. REUTERS/Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen

Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen captures the momentarily upturned face of the boy whose mouth takes the shape of the Melpomene, the muse of tragedy mask, but the image is buried in the mass of swirling mass of arms, faces, reds and blacks. Once you spot him it’s hard to look away: even as the eye is distracted by the beauty of the lights in the background, you are drawn back to his face again.  

Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims take part in a mourning ceremony, ahead of the holy Shi'ite ritual of Arbaeen, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kerbala, Iraq, October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen

Two things strike me immediately about Muhammad Hamed’s wonderful picture; the stoic nature of what looks like lonely work and the greyness of the classroom devoid of students. But this initial impression of loneliness and grey quickly disappears when we look at her face, the energy of her teaching of what looks like trigonometry. You can then imagine the children all at home watching online. And on the subject of angles and shapes, we are drawn by the  arc of the projector cable from one side of the picture through her arm to the pen poised on the white board. 

A private-school teacher gives an online lesson to students receiving distance education, amid fears of a rising number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Amman, Jordan October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 

Who can resist an image that has bright orange and yellow flames reflected in a black pool of water with the additional focal point of a cloaked figure poised mid-step? Not me. A visual treat from Afolabi Sotunde that delights us with moment, colour and composition. The story behind this powerful image is not so delightful as we learn of energy waste and pollution. Read on here

A reflection of two gas flaring furnaces and a woman walking on sand barriers is seen in the pool of oil-smeared water at a flow station in Ughelli, Delta State, Nigeria September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Bolts and padlocks add a literal sense to coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in Mohammed Salem’s thoughtfully shot picture of food being delivered. Timing is all important to get the figure at the centre of the smallest of gaps and it’s not an easy one to expose for either.   

A worker is seen through an opening in a school door as he carries a sack of flour distributed by UNRWA to be delivered to a Palestinian family amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Gaza City October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

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