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Jamestown Water Polo
A Photograph by Mo “Baba” Mahama
In the rectangular frame, one teenage boy is pictured at the bridge between two sections of the water. His submerged body—leaving only his arms and neck and head afloat–faces sideways, and he holds a ball as though it were a lifebuoy. A section of the water is troubled, the other as easy as a curtain in an unventilated room. The other boy–whose face shows the neat coiffure of his hair—looks on with a square presence. His scrutable demeanour is tendered as though it were a counterweight for the intensity of his fellow’s, a ballast of friendship.
— Emmanuel Iduma
“My approach to photography is to find beauty in the mundane.”
This photo was taken at Jamestown, one of Accra's oldest and most storied neighborhoods. I had driven past it many times but never walked through it, and never been to the beach-side. During my first proper walk around Jamestown I got to the pier and noticed kids hanging around and some diving off it. Some kinds saw me with a camera and posed for me with me even asking. I later noticed a group of 3 or 4 boys playing with the ball in the sea and started taking a few pictures of them. During a short stop in play, the boy from the right and I made eye contact. He held that stare as I continued shooting.
I love the gaze of the boy on the right and how his friend behind him stares into (seeming) nothingness. I love the juxtaposition of intensity and laxity.
My approach to photography is to find beauty in the mundane. I shoot in locations that are underrated, photograph people that don't feel like models, and work with natural or available light.
— Mo “Baba” Mahama
About Mo “Baba” Mahama
— “Something To Do,” by Tam Olobio
I was two semesters into my second university and as unmotivated as my last day at my previous school. I hated leaving my room and did so infrequently. It's easy to draw a black swan conclusion as to why I went out that evening, but I prefer to think of it as a mystery because it was on my way that this photo found me. I was never the sort of person to use my phone camera. But all that changed after I took this photo—and decided again and again that I would "just take a photo."
“An Entire Childhood,” by Lidudumalingani, in KINDRED
Shearing sheep is an essential skill for young boys, without it, one is not boy enough. It’s violent, manly, difficult. The young boy must run after the sheep in the garden, violently pull it around the garden by its wall, into the shed where it would be sheared, and then pin it down to the floor with their knee, whilst the seizer cuts the thick fair of the sheep. Though there are no young boys in this photograph, their presence is heavy, and permeates. One cannot look at them and not see it. One cannot look at the sheep, pinned to the floor, with its eyes wide open, frightened, immobile, and not see a young boy trying to be a man.
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This is the 88th edition of this publication, which also read on web (best for viewing images), and via the Substack iOS/Android apps.
Every Wednesday I feature one photograph and the photographer who took it: you’d read a short caption from me, and a statement from the photographer. Every Friday, I publish a series of commentaries in response to photographs previously featured on the newsletter. The ongoing series is KINDRED. My hope is to engage with early to mid-career African photographers, and to create a platform in which photographers lead the cataloguing and criticism of their work.
Photographers can now submit their work for consideration.
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