Why are You Complaining?

Somewhere along the Niger River, Mali.

What? Why are you complaining? You really think your life is so bad…

The day I started to travel is the day I realized how lucky I really am.

If this little guy can get by with just a tattered shirt and a wooden bowl, than I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

A sharing village to fill his bowl and he does not complain. It is how it is, and he gets by as well as he can.

Want the cure for complainers. Tell them to take a trip through the Sahara. If they come back complaining, their condition is incurable…

Note: Not really sure where this was taken exactly. It was a small nameless village about a day and a half down the Niger River (by pinasse), coming from Mopti, headed towards Timbuktu. A few hours past Niafunké. If you see the graveyard in the sand, you are there. The village may be gone by now…

 March 6, 2008


11 comments on “Why are You Complaining?

  1. This is an interesting perspective. Most photos and videos from say… Vision… or some other NGO organization use this tactic. As in, the photo or footage taken with African children looking up. This is done to create sympathy – almost like a beggar that looks up at you as you pass them by. This is also done to showcase the inferiority of the culture (‘they’ are not as ‘developed’ as us, please give them money). This image; however, doesn’t really do this. While the angle is the same, you’ve captured the spirit of this child, which is, in my opinion, fantastic!

    • Olena, great comment, …and I was going to add something to explain my feelings towards what many consider “the less fortunate” in Africa …but I erased it and left the meessage as is.

      As far as I’m concerned, and my intent, was to just photograph the child. Is he unfortunate and monetarily poor? In western standards, of course. Inferior …HA… if anything I, as a westerner, am more inferior. Physically, spiritually and possibly intellectually.

      I don’t know any children in the states that would survive more than a few days in this childs situation (although I am sure there are many). I think a child living on the streets here (in the states) would also have a much tougher time mentally, partially because of the society here. This child was happy, strong, although a bit dirty, and just seemed to have a great mental outlook on life.

      My opinion, in this area of Africa – the people are strong, they don’t beg and they have a much better sense of value. Family values, community values, the basic value of life. It’s a very tough environment, and it makes the people tougher, and one way they are tougher is in their basic values of community and family. They help each other and they look out for each other. The Sahara is tough. My God. …and these people were proud. They know most will die young and they know that westerners have longer, and sometimes “better”, lives, but they also know that this is where they are and they need to make the best of life. Thats what they do. They live life to it’s fullest, no matter how brief it may be. If thats not strength of will than I don’t know what is.

      They don’t have money, and that is what many NGO’s try to show, but money doesn’t go far in alot of these areas. I’ve seen alot of NGO’s over in Africa that are simply useless. They are companies trying to make money and using the people to achieve that goal. They should be ashamed of themselves. PS: not all, but many, many of the “big” one’s.

      The best advice I can give anyone reading this would be to stop believing what you see on TV. Get off the sofa and go see for yourself. It is very different than what you may think. There are some really great people in the world who are portrayed as poor and unfortunate. Guess what – you get there and find some of the kindest, happiest and gentlest people that you have ever met. Maybe not always, but I can guarantee you will look at the world, and TV, very differently.

      So, no tactic involved. Just interacting with the boy. Honestly, I think I chose this angle more for the fact that we were sandwiched in between two mud walls and I wanted to get a clean background and include the boys feet …there were a bunch of other children around so, the best angle at the time was straight down… Again, great comment, and it gave me an opportunity to explain a little …not arguing with you whatsoever.

      Thanks!!! 🙂

  2. His eyes are so beautiful, so full of joy and like you say, pride in self, self respect. I agree with your comment above, John. Money is not everything; one can have money and be poor in all other aspects, and one can be without money and rich in every other aspects.

  3. This is a beautiful post and an incredible photo. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” might be over used and unworthy of your blog but it really describles your lovely blog. Thank you.

  4. Pingback: Isolating a Subject – Children in Africa « Wandering the World

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