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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The people on our road...

Recently i was send on a shoot in a rural area. I love this kind of assignments as it is always open to meeting people, and people is what makes it interesting.

This is not so much about the shoot i had to do for the client, but more about the people i met on that special day.
Two worlds coming together and letting each other look through the windows of the other.
Although the shoot itself went as planed i saw a unusual scene at the next-door neighbor...

Talk to any black person in SA and they will tell you that the Witch-doctor sect is a very secret one indeed. Very seldom will these greatly respected people expose themselves to be photographed, all the less in the room where the practice their rituals! The owners of the house where i was shooting warned me that this was a special kind of witch-doctor,- the type that trained other witch-doctors and that he was not a friendly man!

Needless to say i was not about to let such a chance go by. After introducing myself at the gate of the property i asked permission to enter the property, when granted i took off my shoes and socks and proceed.
At the door i asked permission again to enter, after which i went into the low-roof, dark little house.
To my right i could see the room where the bone-reading was done but i dared not entered that way.

I sat on the floor across from the witch-doctor and started to talk with the man. Over a period of an hour i learned that he was in the proses to teach 2 prodigies.
I was warned when i entered not to take any pictures as this will anger the 'spirits'. (i definitely didn't want to do that!)
After a long discussion where i chose my words very careful i convinced the witch-doctor to pose for a picture, but not only any picture ,- i wanted to shoot him with his students in the ritual room!
He deliberated with his students in their native tongue and i sat in silence saying a quite prayer that my wish be granted.
Finally they all looked at me, i was allowed on condition that i provide him with the images so he can print it for himself. I said that i would do more than that and that i will make large prints for all three of them and courier it together with the images on a disc to them. Needless to say we had a deal.

We all went into the ritual room, a dark room,- no light except a few candles in one corner.
I have only seen a shop with as many little bottle and jars with all kinds of stuff in them in Hong Kong.
Row upon row, all shapes and sizes. All con-tense was secret of cause and i didn't even want to know what they was. All three witch doctors changed into their traditional clothing.
I made sure my Canon D40 was properly loaded, the off-camera Canon 580EX II triggered via the Pocket Wizard Transceiver ready, and the lens-cap off the 16-35 mm Canon F2.8 lens.
These are just some of the images he allowed me to make.

Afterwords we talked a little more and he was pleased. He commended me in the way i was respectful towards his ways and culture and i thanked him for allowing me into his world. Sometimes, most of the times, it helps to treat people with dignity and respect, and to know some of the local customs also helps.

Needles to say, but i send him the prints and a disc and he phoned me to thank me.
I'd like to think that me and that Sangoma have made a small connection in each other's worlds.

Like i said in the beginning, sometimes when two worlds connect, all you have to do is look into the other and enjoy the ride,- that is what life is about...

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