Three Cups of Tea in Niger

The nomads in Niger say that tea is the “friend of conversation.” I watched  how the rhythms of the day are marked by  the tea service. Tea finishes off every meal and signals the time for the afternoon nap. The last cup marks the end of the day.

They  say that wan-iyen – the first round – is bitter, like life. The sharp taste of the Chinese green tea  not yet diluted by pots of water. Wan-ashin, the second round, is sweet, like love; sugar is  added and the tea has lost some of its strength. Wan-karad, the third round, is light, like the “breath of death.” This one is little more than sugary water.

None of the  activities required to live in the desert, such as pounding millet or pulling water from a deep well or the  preparation of tea looked  easy and I could see one needed strength, patience and grace.Niger_Red-4-700 Niger_Red-268-704 Niger_red3-1407-703

Terri Gold Recent Awards at Photography Competitions

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Terri Gold is honored to receive multiple awards from two photography competitions this year.

Terri was awarded 4 Bronze Titles at the 2014 PX3 prix de la photographie Competition in Paris, France, as well as 5 Nominations at the Black and White Spider Awards in Los Angeles, California.

Both competitions are juried by top international decision-makers in the photography industry.

Terri’s images from her series from the Omo Valley, Ethiopia were selected from thousands in entries from 73 countries at the Spider Awards and from 85 countries at PX3.

To read more about these honorable achievements, click on the links below:

Terri Gold Winner of PX3 prix de la photographie 2014

Terri Gold Winner of Black and White Spider Awards 2014

 

Security in Niger

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” Lillian Smith

Niger was a journey to both the inner and outer worlds. I was continually aware there was much going on beyond what I saw in front of me. So much about the life here that I didn’t understand. To live the life of a nomad with no fixed home, little access to education or health care or much knowledge about the world. What that must that be like…

The unseen layers called me. The world is big enough for so  many different values and beliefs. What links us all is our common humanity. I travel to stretch my imagination and beliefs.

We flew from Niamey, the capital, to Agadez on the UN plane under the auspices of the Nomad Foundation. There we met with our security team of 2 vehicles with 9 armed soldiers in each car and a 50 caliber machine gun on each truck. One cannot leave Agadez without them. We were shadowed quietly by them throughout the trip.  We were warmly received at the festivals  and encountered no problems with our security and yet now, on returning home, the situation has changed and we would probably not be able to go this week.

We received this  bulletin from the  US State Department this week :

While the U.S. Embassy is unaware of any specific, credible threats against U.S. or western interests or individuals in Niger, U.S. citizens residing in, or visiting Niger should remain vigilant regarding their personal security and stay alert to local security developments. We also heard that French troops have reportedly destroyed an al-Qaeda convoy in Niger that was transporting weapons from Libya to Mali, and also captured some of the group’s fighters. There were 250 military vehicles racing through Agadez on the way North to address this problem.

Our timing was very lucky and I feel privileged to have visited the festivals that so few people get to see.  I am  very sad that the incredible program that  Leslie Clark and the Nomad Foundation had set up for this week had to be postponed till the situation becomes stable again. Leslie had a doctor coming to work with the local midwives and other volunteers to implement  a new building technique. I hope this all gets to happen in the not to distant future.

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Searching for the Gerewol Festivals

“This is a great moment, when you see, however distant, the goal of your wandering. The thing which has been living in your imagination suddenly become part of the tangible world. It matters not how many ranges, rivers or parching dusty ways may lie between you; it is yours now for ever. ” Freya Stark

On the last leg of the journey home from my trip to photograph and experience the Nomad festivals in Niger.. I have been dreaming of seeing these festivals since I first discovered Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher’s books on Niger and other parts of Africa. I have been traveling with Leslie Clark, of the Nomad Foundation, who led the trip, Diane Marinos and Louise Porter, fellow photographers. We had a tough first week finding only one festival rehearsal, visited some nomadic camps and a rather modern Tuareg wedding with electric guitar and few camels. We persevered, mainly keeping our sense of humor, gathering  information wherever we could and found there would be two large festivals beginning in a few days. Then the wild adventures began and we stepped back in time. A biblical scene awaited us as we arrived at the first festival, a Wodaabe Worso. This is a gathering of families where the nomads celebrate their way of life, the end of a successful rainy season and the one time of year they can all get together. It means they bring their houses, herds and families, arriving on camels, burros and many on foot.  It was enormous—thousands of animals, maybe thousands of people-no real  way to count, our wonderful crew and our ever faithful security team which you cannot travel in Niger without and the 4 of us.

We slept under the stars, the music of the herds our lullaby and the milky way and full moon overhead. During the day we were warmly welcomed everywhere mainly because of the wonderful work Leslie and her foundation has been doing in this area since the 90’s and joined in the celebrations under the blazing hot  sun. Leslie is a true inspiration. She speaks the Wodaabe language, has lived in their tents  and traveled by camel with the nomads across the grasslandsand learned their customs and traditions. Then created her foundation and built schools and opened medical clinics and most importantly wells, and then creates  beautiful paintings of her experiences.

The whole experience was magical

more tales to follow…

The Gerewol

The Gerewol

 

Leaving for Niger

There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.” 

 J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit

Leaving for Niger on Tuesday…

 In the Sahel desert of Niger, the nomadic Wodaabe people spend months apart, searching out pastures for their herds. When the rains are good, the tribes celebrate with an extraordinary beauty contest called Gerewol… and it’s the men who are on parade. 

 Being nomads there is nothing fixed about the festivals – no specific dates, they occur in September and October,  different lineages join together for the pageantry.  Also, on my mind as we will be driving through the grasslands and desert, is there is no fixed location….

 Looking forward to a unique adventure whatever we find…nomad encampments, camels racing in the dunes , evening dances and hypnotic chants, then traveling into the Tenere Desert, which I have heard has an indescribable beauty and a silence so intense that one can imagine the sound of the star trails.

 Off the Grid

Over the Edge of the Wild

as Joseph Conrad once said…

Suddenly a puff of wind, a puff laden with the scents of Africa  – the first sigh of Africa on my face

I wonder what story will unfold…

Beautiful image of the Gerewol by Timothy AllenBBC Human Planet : Wodaabe Gerewol , Niger , Africa

Heritage Museum of Malaga in Malaga, Spain Shows Hamar Family In the Omo Valley

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I am happy to show my photograph Hamar Family In the Omo Valley in the 3rd Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography in Malaga, Spain.

This exciting exhibition is Malaga’s largest international contemporary photography event. Held on September 18th, 2014, this edition of the Biennial will feature 164 artists from 25 countries at the modern Heritage Museum of Malaga.

This visual feast is the third edition of the Biennial, which first opened at the Circle of Fine Arts in Madrid in 2010, and then opened at the Borges Cultural Center in Buenos Aires in 2012.

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