For 30 years and with deep journalistic passion, French photographer Pascal Maitre has put this most exciting continent on his agenda. His watchful and incorruptible eye has found gorgeous, captivating images in places where political and social upheaval shook the world. The pictures were published in big-name magazines such as GEO, Paris Match, L’Express, Stern and National Geographic. In his photographs Maitre subtly uses angle, light, contrast and colour to document Africa, touchingly, full of magic and fascination, with a deep respect for the African people. Amazing Africa is the work of one of the most outstanding photographers of our times.
PASCAL MAITRE ABOUT AFRICA
In anthropology this is known as the gift and the return (or counter) gift. The people that I shall present in the following texts gave me a great deal. The time has come for me to give something in return. Through three symbolic characters, this is also, of course, a tribute to Africa or, rather, to different versions of Africa, all close to my heart. Therefore I invite you to take this book as…
… A BOOK THAT PAYS TRIBUTE TO AFRICANS
All of them. Because this pluralistic, complex continent, all too often a subject of caricature, harbours exceptional men and women. From Nobel prize winners to peasants. From nomads to businessmen. My work as a photojournalist has brought me mostly in contact with down-to-earth people, attached to a particular place. Beings connected to the sky and the earth, seekers of water in the heart of the desert, of spirits in the bush. Fighters and poets. Kalakoa, the Touareg, is forever etched in my memory.
… A BOOK THAT PAYS TRIBUTE TO “FIXERS”
They are often spoken of. The kidnapping of journalists, the taking of hostages, have put the people we call ‘fixers’ on centre stage: people, without whom our work in the field would be impossible. I like to refer to them as ‘openers’. Thanks to them, we obtain authorisation which even the diplomatic corps would have difficulty acquiring and we are able to work in war zones – it should be noted also that these people are often
kidnapped at the same time as journalists and that they also risk their lives. They are the ones who give us access to information, who allow us to reach places and scenes which we transform into photographic eye-witness accounts. The difficulty for journalists in the field is to gain such access.
The rest of the job, taking photographs, is not the hardest. I can never say enough about how much I owe these men and women who have taken risks for me, who have allowed me to enter their lives, who have opened their hearts to me. Moreover, I no longer talk of ‘fixers’, for these people have a family name, a first name. The stories built with them, for manyyears now, have become stories of friendship.
Ajoos, my guide in the hell of Mogadishu, is one of them.
… A BOOK THAT PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE CHARACTERS INVOLVED IN OUR REPORTING
Sometimes we forget. The nameless people in our photographs are real historical actors. The men and women who haunt our pictures remain heroes, sometimes tragic and sometimes happy, of a story in which the photojournalist is physically present, but of which he is only a witness and not an integral element.
My wish was to present, in these sketches, people out of the ordinary, because everything in Africa – the land, nature, beliefs, the way life is lived – generates important and beautiful characters. The magnificent and heroic Burundian, Maggy Barankitse, is one of them.