It’s personal: telling the story of small truths

There’s a worthwhile conversation going on right now about Everyday Africa, a Tumblr account that posts photos from daily life in Africa, taken by people who live and work there. The project was started by photojournalists Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill, who were inspired to show life on the continent as people who live there see it: in small moments of joy, love and connection, instead of through portrayals of the big tragedies that  devastate nations and dominate headlines. They invited photographers living in countries across the African continent to submit their contribution. At first, I found it interesting that there even needs to be a project like this, but then I thought of how little we are told of Africa, beyond the famines and wars that make the news, and that we can also, sadly, choose to ignore. Too many people confuse the continent for a country, and so many diverse, unique cultures and traditions, languages and histories get conflated in one word: Africa. While I recognize that it is important to know the big stories that are concerned with the fate of nations, as a writer, I also celebrate the stories of “small living”, the personal, the unexpected story that defies the generality, the little moment that would have been lost if it were not for the telling. I was reminded of Arundhati Roy‘s wonderful title “The God of Small Things” and how sometimes we can (or should) only focus on the small things; often, they are the only things in our control and they are the site of much joy and beauty.

You can find the Everyday Africa project at the Everyday Africa tumblr account and at the The New Yorker’s Instagram feed.

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Even the leaves have a story to tell…

I noticed these leaf imprints on the driveway this morning. They made me think of The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes and how the natural world and the world of the imagination share the same impetus, to leave a mark. I wanted to capture that, before the rain washes them away.