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500px Global Photo Walk-Sudan

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Take a look around you, what do you see? A golden sun collapsing into the dark dusty clouds below. A woman carrying a large plate on her head filled with tied plastic bags of popcorn, peanuts and seeds, her red and orange tobe flapping in the wind. Sudan is a place of beauty if only you take a closer look.

This is what photography teaches us. To look at the world as if you were capturing it forever on a piece of paper.

A growing number of people in Sudan are seeing photography as an art form. Aside from advertising, family portraits and weddings, Sudanese are not known to use the camera. Today, however, there are young photographers trying to show this country and it’s cities in a new light.

The annual 500px Global Photo Event showed some forty or so camera enthusiasts make their way to Manshia to take part in a photography event aimed at highlighting Khartoum’s burgeoning photography scene.

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“I like to photograph weird things,” said Abdelrahman Hejjai (pictured above). “I want to participate in international events, to enter competitions, I want people to pay attention to us.”

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If the international community is looking away from Sudan these days, the people are looking inwards.

“Photography is awesome. I take a picture every day, everything I see.”  Mazen, a student using his phone to photograph patterns on a wall said.“Cameras are expensive, but everyone has a smart phone”.

Mazen uploads his images to online image sharing programs like Instagram. Without instruction, a decent SLR or even a computer, Mazen can share his ideas to the entire world without ever leaving Sudan.

“What we need in Sudan is a place to teach photography, and more events like this,” he said.

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An unapologetically self-help induced post

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Knowing yourself is an illusion.

Once I felt I really knew who I was. Then I shook the etch-a-sketch and felt like I had to start all over again.This is a farce. You can’t start all over again, nor can you ever really know everything you potentially can/will be.

So what are some more constructive things to think about? I need to ask better questions. I’m bored of ‘self-discovery’ that feels like getting a cheap make over.

Do I need spirituality? Is this what it feels like to want help for my soul?

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Street Art of Khartoum

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There is a different type of street art in Khartoum, Sudan. The bright, spray painted swirls and skulls smoking joints of the West do not exist here. Instead there is an abundance (if you look) of pencil sketches on buildings. I have started to document them, but alas only on my phone, which has bad resolution. Don’t worry I intend to go back to every nook and cranny with my Canon to show you all.

However, there is another phenomenon worth mentioning here. Hand painted children’s art adorns schools and day care buildings and is magical and creepy and wonderfully out of place (a sentence that essentially sums up everything I like.)

Here is a small example from a walk last week, including Khartoum cemetery and a pretty metal gate.

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Passage from my journal

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Thin lined pencil marks the solemn face upon the wall. Barbed wire encircles the bastions from the forgotten church beyond and birds of iridescent blue play hop scotch over metal frames.

Looking onwards in mute companionship with the children leaving the deaf school over to the right, the profile’s high cheek bones and bald scalp betray it’s owner’s elegance.

And it is if a stricken artist left this mark, bereft of paper, she chose this wall on this red sand streaked alley of metal gates and gaping mouthed children to leave behind this face.

This poised, unmoving visage and silent watcher.