The Gambia - broodjongens

The Gambia 🇬🇲 This is one of the first photos I took on African soil. Many would follow but this one remains very special to me. Taken in 2003 in the still analogue era, it was then still more than two months waiting for the development of the negative. I remember the moment I looked at the print a few days after returning home, like yesterday.

On the way from the coast towards upcountry. From ‘The smiling coast’ to a piece of unspoilt nature, along the banks of the Gambia River. The moment I captured this image, I can easily recall. The smell, the heat. As I write it, I feel my heart beating faster. Africa gets under your skin. And it is still there.

The moment of photography also made my heart beat faster. Because I did what I prefer to do. Because I was there where I prefer, on my way. On the way to adventure, to a story, to a new experience. The acceleration of my heart rhythm was perhaps also because at the time, as a 20-year-old, I was seriously in love with the person sitting next to me. He bought baguettes along the way. Tapalapa, as it is called in The Gambia. Later that day we would make garlic bread in the house along the river. We stopped along the road, opened the window with the heat slapping our faces. But not only this. The Gambia remains a country plagued by poverty and inequality. The road is long. But the joy of these boys and their expression along the south bank of the river, is what I remembered the most.

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