Words Behind the Pictures: a Photographer's Notebook

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia THE streets were crowded with people. My eye was caught by a swirl of green and gold encircling a face of exquisite fineness and dignity. It was an orthodox priest, carrying a cross and fly whisk. Quickly I pulled out my camera and hurried after him. Suddenly he turned into a doorway. I reached him just in time to tug gently on his black cloak as he was closing the door. And only then, as he turned to look quizzically at me, did I realize the audacity of my act. His son came to my rescue, translating my request to take his father's picture.

With a glimmer of a smile and a slight nod, the father agreed. His son requested that I send him a copy. Weeks later I did, by sending him the front page of The Christian Science Monitor for Aug. 10, 1989. Kitui, Kenya

TWILIGHT is the magical time to take photographs. It was nearing this hour when I joined some women sitting together in a courtyard talking and deftly weaving the Kenya bags so popular in the United States and Europe. I took portraits of the women, their faces shining in the soft, diffused evening light, their brightly colored clothes set off by the vividly hued sisal strands slowly being transformed into baskets. Even as they started home, their fingers never missed a beat, weaving as they walked. Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso

I WATCHED a group of women busily cooking the evening meal for participants of a development seminar. It took them all afternoon to prepare the food in huge pots over an open wood fire. They mostly took turns pounding a paste to season the stew and stirring it, but sometimes as many as three women stirred at the same time, keeping a quick, precise rhythm.

The young children felt neglected as their mothers cooked. Finally, after the food was ready to serve, the women had time to sit down and relax. One little girl, who donned her mother's red head scarf, discarded in the heat of cooking, was happy to be able to reclaim her mother's full attention. Bor, southern Sudan

SCHOOLS are starting up in rebel-held areas such as this after having been closed for almost six years due to civil war. Children are eagerly going to school for the first time in their lives. This boy was in a class held in the shade of a tree. The teacher welcomed us and even had the class show off a bit - standing up to shout some simple English phrases and count to 50. Then it was time to ignore us and go back to the serious task of learning. New vocabulary words were written on the blackboard and studiously copied down by students fortunate enough to have received part of a notebook and pencil stub. We went off to visit another village. But when we returned, three hours later, in the heat of the day, the class was still there, under the tree, sitting in the dust. (See story Jan. 26, pp. 12-13.)

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