Les Algues sont mortes

Les Algues sont mortes

Seaweed earned Zanzibar 75 million Euro in 2015, the third-largest foreign-currency earner after tourism and cloves. About 24,000 households, 80 percent of them headed by women, grow seaweed on the semi-autonomous island.

The island, one of the world’s largest producers of seaweed, was unable to continue the  production of algae because of a mystery disease thought to be caused by warming oceans.

The project :

This project deals with the loss of an industry that employs hundreds of women on the East Coast of Zanzibar. The women who lost their livelihood through the death of the seaweed were portrayed in the sea as photo models, which restored their pride.

The making of :

After staying on the east coast of Zanzibar, I decided the next year to go back to create an addition to the already-made camera obscura photographs.
My subject would once again be the colorfully dressed women who acquired their emancipation by becoming the breadwinner of the family.
Their daily task was to harvest the algae in the extensive area between the coastline and the barrier reef. Beautiful and relatively well-paid work in the open air at a great distance from their husbands and offspring.
The preparations were made for the trip together with my son when I heard from our contact person on the spot that the algae had been struck by a mysterious illness.
There was no question of harvesting that year.
I decided  to take the trip anyway and make an effort to get some women before the camera under the premise that they would receive the same amount of money on a photo-shoot as they would gain on a picking-day of algae.
On the spot I could count on Maulid whom I had met the year before.
Maulid would try to convince a number of women to pose in front of the camera. We had a small printer so that we could also give the result of the shoot to the ladies on top of the payment.
The first day was the one woman show – day two there were three..The Muslim women dressed differently every day – the pictures were our best business card and  their numbers grew daily… until the last day when there were 14 models and my budget was almost exhausted.
The photo shoots went from day to day in greater joy and fun as can be seen.
E-mail from Jambiani to home – 16/03/2014:
‘These photos are specifically made to give to the “models” – in a very colorful bag with their daily wages (4 €) included – tomorrow they will be printed 

The men in the photos belong to the crew.

It has had a lot of feet in the earth to start but now it starts to become fun. Today spontaneous applause of all (4) models at the end of the shoot.

4 is twice what we had the first day.

In view of what they are paid and the tamtam I expect 8 tomorrow and that will increase when they get their package.

Maulid – my key person here has much less influence than I thought and he constantly stops me from scouting myself what I respect – making choices is the message here

Furthermore, the weather…  rainy season has started – but gives nice clouds huh ..

When the weather is good it is almost impossible to harden – around 38 degrees and then our models come half an hour or more later – we can hardly go back because the place of shooting is one kilometer from the start of the beach – so hat on shirt with long sleeves and lots of sunscreen

Today they were on time but Maulid was in the wrong place – not bad at all, because it starts to break loose and become enjoyable.

Many greetings,’

E-mail from Zambiani to home – 19/03/2014 (excerpt) :

‘Yesterday something funny happened and a bit shocking – a nice big seabird – little albatross came sitting next to a model – beast was totally exhausted – the colors matched perfectly with the clothes of the model and I started to take pictures when one of the other “models” who were waiting quickly took a big stick and knocked the beast  half-dead – to eat of course – was hilarious ..

The less fun was that they had to play with it as cats with a mouse for half an hour before the animal disappeared in a big bag – pre-made for the stew pot’