According to Malian artist Fatoumata Diabaté, this photograph pictures children wearing handmade masks, illustrating a particular fairytale. “The story expresses the intellectual spirit of Africa in its own tradition, and speaks of hospitality, peace, wealth, and of the transformation of local materials,” says Diabaté, nodding to the dress one character wears, which is “made from a sack of rice,” accented by a cardboard mask.
“The false ideas are that there is nothing but misery in Africa,” says Diabaté, when asked about common misconceptions surrounding the continent. “First, misery related to famine. One associates Africa too often with images of people who have died of hunger, all while there is flourishing agriculture in Africa. In all the different climates of the continent, the people produce what they need to feed themselves and their families. Or you can go to the market, overflowing with delicious local fruits and vegetables.
“Famine strikes only a small minority of people, who are unfortunately exposed to armed conflicts in their homes and must flee the place where they normally live in peace. For the most part, these conflicts are the result of a problem, linked to a second idea about the misery of Africa—that Africa doesn’t possess any resources. Except it’s not true! Africa is extremely rich in raw materials, such as gas, diamond minerals, gold, silver, and coltan,used for smartphone screens. There are plenty of other resources that wealthy countries desire and seize as they orchestrate armed conflicts in what one can call neocolonialism, so that their populations can then live in the comfort of a consumer society.”
This text has been translated from the original French.