Thursday, June 11, 2009

Two Elders, MACODEF, Western Kenya, 2007

What do we see in these portraits?

Who do we see? Are these faces familiar to us? Do they resemble someone from down the street?

Can we imagine them living in another country? In another continent?

Can we imagine their lives? Are their dreams similar to our dreams?

Do they have the same aspirations? Do they experience the same worries?

These portrats reflect my work with MACODEF. They live near a town called Kisumu in Western Kenya. Both portraits are made outside of churches, one with the sky as a background and the other with a white wall. 'I have taken and viewed many photos of community life over the years of my association with the Maragoli people of Western Kenya, but Halim's portraits are unlike any I have witnessed. He has an extraordinary ability to capture the essence of an individual's personality in a single picture. Especially when viewed against the sensationalized Western media coverage of the ethnic violence that followed Kenya's 2007 presidential election, Halim's photos have the effect of restoring a sense of the dignity and resilience of ordinary people. This capacity to capture the best of human nature is partly due to his considerable technical skills and his patience and perseverance. But it is also a result of his uncanny knack for establishing a personal connection with those he is photographing. That Halim is willing to use his gift for photography to raise awareness and funds to improve the lives of the people he photographs is even more impressive. I am deeply grateful for his willingness to collaborate with the Maragoli Community Development Foundation.'  

David McConnell 

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