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Photographer Lost

Photographer Lost

Ali (our guide) says that this remote village called Balligubedle on the Ethiopian border will provide a perfect example of Somali village life. On the way, I pass through a small community where ten men strapped with AK-47s stand about. As Ali slows to a stop, a little paranoia creeps into my mind. I then discover that negative stereotypes can go both ways. Some men begin yelling as I snap a few pictures of a truck. “They don’t want any foreigners to take pictures,” explains Khalid, a well-educated town elder who has travelled to over 30 countries. “They think that the Americans will then come and bomb with the drones.”

Once in Balligubedle, I walk the entire village in minutes. The invisible border with Ethiopia cuts through houses, a prime example of the arbitrary way in which colonists divided Africa. They warn me not to cross for fear that I might end up in an Ethiopian prison for entering without a visa. At the only restaurant in town, patrons joyfully use their hands to eat dripping spaghetti while watching reruns of over-the-top American wrestling on Arabic satellite TV. They turn to me with expressions of anxious curiosity to ask me if it’s fake. I don’t have the heart to break it to them so I opt for an “I don’t know” before washing down my last strand of spaghetti with some lukewarm Sprite.

In this photo, my mentor Eric Lafforgue wanders about the emptiness searching for a worthy subject.

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Photo taken on 17 November 2011 (© Constantine Savvides / Flickr)

Related tags :
 somalia, somaliland, somali, somalie, somali village, small village, nothing, empty, emptiness, africa, afrique, afrika, balligubedle, centered, open, lpremote

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