Friday 30 March 2018

A Week in Pictures - Middle East & Africa March 30, 2018

Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s picture of a finger being dipped in ink to prevent double voting in the Egyptian election is well composed and you get a sense of the place by the woman with the head scarf in the background. But I prefer the recropped version as it is graphic in its bold design and highlights the marking on the finger and the red ink about to drip off can be better seen. 

A voter’s finger is marked with ink at a polling station during the second day of polling for the presidential election, Alexandria, Egypt March 27, 2018. Mohamed Abd El Ghany

 I like the explosive moment of celebration captured by Khalil Ashawi as victorious fighters enter the centre of Afrin, Syria. It is the collection of small, well-defined details that makes this picture. You can almost hear the gunfire crack into the air, a rifle silhouetted against a bright sky, and the muzzle flash of a heavy calibre gun highlighted against the mid tones of the downtown buildings. The curve of the road and direction of the vehicles finally lead to you to notice the small central figure,  arms raised, his tiny V-shaped shadow cast on the ground. Maybe a crop better serves this image, what do you think?

Turkish backed Free Syrian Army members celebrate in Afrin, Syria, March 18, 2018.   REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

In 1889 Oscar Wilde wrote ‘Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life’ and it seems that Amr Abdallah Dalsh’s picture brings this idea back into focus as he captures this wonderful moment. The man taking the selfies will have a picture of himself in front of Mousa walking near a poster of himself.  If you look carefully, this same portrait of Mousa can be seen on the ID badge that is worn by the man with the orange lanyard.

A man takes selfies pictures with Presidential candidate Mousa Mostafa Mousa afer he cast his vote during the presidential election in Cairo, Egypt, March 26, 2018.  REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Dark graphic shapes against a bright background could be seen as visually low-hanging fruit that Ronen Zvulun has taken full advantage of. Positive and negative shapes are created between the regular spacing of the headdresses of the nuns, their faces appearing in the dark shapes of their habits. The strong shapes and monochromatic feel to this image are only broken by the colours of the Russian flag in the background.

Russian nuns prepare to cast their ballots for Russia’s presidential election in a polling station in Jerusalem March 18, 2018.   EUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

There is no avoiding the overwhelming feeling of sadness in Khaled Abdullah’s picture of a small child in an IDP camp. The simple, strong shape of the tyre and the bright red of his shirt isolate the boy against the litter-filled, grey background. He seems to be surrounded by emptiness. The detail of his bare feet hint at the abject poverty he must endure as the conflict in Yemen enters its fourth year. Read on here. 

A boy leans on a tyre at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) near Sanaa, Yemen March 18, 2018.    REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

I cannot begin to imagine the emotional rollercoaster that the kidnapped schoolgirls and their families have gone through in the last couple of weeks. Reports of the kidnapping of 105 girls were countered by claims by the government that they had been rescued. This proved to be untrue, but a few days later most of the girls were released.  The pictures below by Afolabi Sotunde and Ola Lanre seem to sum up both ends of the emotional scale. More from Nigeria here.

Tears run down the faces of newly released Dapchi schoolgirls in Jumbam village, Yobe State, Nigeria, March 21, 2018. Ola Lanre

Alhaji Audu Danga, the father of Falmat Audu, one of the newly released Dapchi schoolgirls, smiles in Dapchi, in the north eastern state of Yobe, Nigeria, March 22, 2018.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

When I first saw Baz Ratner’s picture I could not shake off the feeling of hope I got from his image, which seemed counter intuitive in an IDP camp for those affected by the drought in Somalia. The long shadows and soft light, with livestock being herded into what looks like a bright horizon, all give this image an feeling of calm. What I learned from the story is that although the present drought is harsher than the drought and subsequent famine that killed 260,000 in 2011, the death toll is much lower, at about 1,000, according to the United Nations. Although 1,000 dead is bad, this is still progress and here’s why.

A woman walks goats down a street at the new Kabasa camp for the internally displaced in the northern Somali town of Dollow, Somalia, February 25, 2018.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Cricket is not a sport I’d normally associate with mayhem and chaos as players arrive or leave at airports. But take a ball-tampering scandal followed by the uncovering of a web of lies told by the captain of Australia and his subsequent sacking, and then you have all the ingredients for a bun fight as the disgraced players leave the country. Throw in photographer Siphiwe Sibeko as you have a great picture that tells the story of shame, passion and chaos. This is just not cricket so you can find out more here!

Axed Australian cricket captain Steve Smith is escorted by police as he leaves the O.R Tambo international Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa march 28, 2018.   Siphiwe Sibeko

 The look in the eye of this small child seems to say it all. I’m home and happy. Khalid Al-Mousily’s picture captures the warmth that emanates from the child’s face, a contrast to the cold blues of the carpet and grays of the concrete wall of her surroundings. The lighter tones of the cracked wall seem to create a halo effect of growing warmth that I hope will slowly fill the image as the family settle back home. You can see the full story here.   

A child of Mohammed Saleh Ahmad and Iman Abdullah Saleh sits on the floor at home in Mosul, Iraq march 21, 2018.  Mohammed, his wife, parents and five children fled their home in March 2017 when US-led coalition forces began their advance on western Mosul, the final stretch to rout out Islamic State militants who had overrun the city in 2014. The family lived in al-Alil refugee camp before returning home.   REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily

 I am not a cat person. In fact I am not a pet person at all. I can’t help being drawn to Essam Al-Sudani’s picture, although in a bad way and not a good way, a bit like the way people slow down to look at a traffic accident. Do these animals look smug to you? Maybe it’s just the way they seem to be looking away with complete lack of interest, perched on cushioned beds in a ‘pet’ hotel. Maybe I feel this way because I still see Khalid’s story above, from the same country and from the same week. 

Cats are seen in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq March 13, 2018.    REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani

If you ever wondered what the Ethiopian/Kenyan border looks like, Baz Ratner has answered the question with a wonderful landscape picture. From the simple concrete block in the foreground your eye travels, hundreds of miles to the far horizon without a single interruption from a single man-made structure. It also makes me wonder what these two people are doing and where they are going.

Women walk past a stone marking the Ethiopian-Kenyan border near the town of Moyale, Kenya March 27, 2018.    REUTERS/Baz Ratner

When it comes to wondering what people are doing and why, I am more than worried for these two workers in Thomas Mukoya’s striking picture from the Rift Valley in Kenya. Are they really just carrying on as normal, farming land that has just opened to expose an enormous, gaping hole? Every compositional element of the picture - the line of the crack, the clouds and the curve of the hills in the background - runs to the woman in red,  who is bending over a plant at full stretch. Read on here.

Women work on their farm near a chasm suspected to have been caused by a heavy downpour along an underground fault-line near the Rift valley town of Mai Mahia, Kenya, March 28, 2018.    REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya



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