To me photography is often about engaging with people. Despite being told to do so by our taxi driver I point-blank refused to stick my camera out the window of the car as we drove down one really poor street. Yet on my second visit, this time walking down the same street, we bothered to talk to the people I was snapping and everyone we met appeared so happy. Except one family. You’ll notice in amongst all the photographs of smiling faces are two brothers who look very sad. Why were they like this? It doesn’t bear thinking about but their eyes tell a different story and their portraits stick out like sore thumbs. It’s a stark reminder that behind all the laughter life is still damn bloody tough.
Suakin has to be seen to be believed. It is one reason why I took so many photographs of both people and buildings. Along the dusty road from the anchorage and old city lies the market, and behind the market, the residential area. The market is surrounded by wooden buildings that look more at home in The House of Fun, such is the angle at which they sit. It is the residential area, however, that really shocks. More buildings made of any scrap of cardboard, metal or wood have been cobbled together to provide some kind of shelter from the sun.
As if we needed proof that we were visiting one of the world’s poorest countries, the 1 hour bus journey from Suakin to Port Sudan was an eye-opener I’ll never forget.
Sudan is the gem of Africa. From the coast it is not only unspoiled but utterly stunning too. Then one sets foot on land and meets the people: they’re as beautiful as the land they inhabit. Sudan is one of those countries I really wish I’d spent more time in and it is my wish to return one day. In the meantime I have this set of images to remind me just how poor the people are, yet completely humble and happy. At least in front of the camera.