Archive for the 'Africa' Category

15
Mar
14

Latems creatief: When pictures become art paintings

Between the 31st of January and the 2nd of February there was an exposition of paintings at the “Hof Van Ryhove” in Gent, Belgium.

Monk with cat

Monk with pet

It was a group of art painters, grouped as ‘Latems Creatief’ who organized this exposition and who exhibited a large number of art works.

Young monk

young-monk-in-myanmar

Eight of the paintings were for sale, and all profit was foreseen for the Kalyan English Secondary School in Lalitpur, Nepal.

Touareg

Tuareg

These eight paintings were based on my photography, and I was very much honored by the request of their teacher Johan Morel to have some of my portraits selected to transform into art paintings.

Sadhu

sadhoe

Here you can see the transformations.

Inle Lake

rowing-during-sunset

To all members of the art group named ‘Latems Creatief’ I want to express my special thanks for their organization and for their donations to the Kalyan School in Nepal.

Red cap

red-cap

Monk with bowl

Ananda

Bandana

bandana girl

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02
Apr
11

Animal planet: the ring-tailed lemur

The Ring-tailed lemur, Lemur catta, is one of twenty-two species of lemurs. They share a common ancestry with Africa’s monkeys and apes, but were isolated from those species probably 50 million years ago when Madagascar separated from the African continent. All lemur species today are endangered due to the rapid destruction of their forest habitat for agricultural development, cattle grazing, and human settlement.

They have binocular forward vision, but must turn their heads to see ahead because their eyes have limited movement in the socket. This gives them a wide-eyed, staring aspect that sometimes startles viewers. The word Lemur comes from old Latin, and refers to ghosts or spirits. The staring eyes, haunting sounds, and nocturnal ways of the lemur inspired early observers to think of them as ghosts or forest spirits. The Ring-tailed lemur’s coat is black gray, the limbs and belly lighter, and the extremities white. There are rings about the eyes, the muzzle is black, the tail is banded black and white.  Lemurs are found only on the east African island of Madagascar. They live in the dry woodland districts with a seven to eight month dry season.

 

Most lemur are arboreal. But the Ring-tailed is different in that it frequently uses the ground for travel, more than any of the other lemurs. It is diurnal and gregarious, living in groups of 5-30. Females are generally dominant to males. Its long, bushy, black-and-white banded tail is used by the species as a visual signal. In aggressive encounters, the Ring-tail will wave its scent-covered tail in the direction of a rival. Loud calls alert other members of the social group to danger and help to maintain comfortable spacing between groups. Ring-tailed lemurs purr and mew like house cats. It loves to sunbathe with legs and arms spread wide. Living in an arid habitat, it quenches its thirst with juicy fruits. Sitting on its haunches holding fruit in its hands, a lemur delicately bites off pieces with its back teeth so the juice runs into its mouth and not on its fur. They communicate with short grunting sounds as a contact call within the troop, sometimes followed with a quick bark.  

Lemurs are generally herbivorous. Their diets consisting mainly of leaves, fruits, and berries — although they occasionally take bird eggs, small mammals, and insects. After a gestation period of about 135 days, a single offspring is born. Occasionally they may have twins or even triplets. The young are grayish with a thin coat of hair. The entire group helps care for and play with the young. Young lemurs first begin to climb at about three weeks, and are usually independent by six months. They are sexually mature and fully grown at 11/2 years. In captivity lemurs have lived for 20-27 years.

31
Mar
11

The art of being Tuareg: Sahara nomads in a modern world

The Tuareg, who once controlled the caravan trade routes across the Sahara, are semi nomadic, pastoralist people of North-African Berber origin. The actual total population of Tuaregs amounts to approximately 5,2 million. The Tuareg have been predominantly Muslim since the 16th century. They combine Sunni Islam (specifically the Maliki Madhhab, popular in North and West Africa) with certain pre-Islamic animistic beliefs, including spirits of nature (Kel Asuf) and such syncretic beliefs as divination through means of the Qur’an.

The Tuareg adopted camel nomadism along with its distinctive form of social organization from camel-herding Arabs about two thousand years ago, when the camel was introduced to the Sahara from Arabia. They are grouped into independent federations and live in Southern Algeria, Southwestern Libya, Mali and Niger and in fewer numbers in Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Southern Morocco. Although the Tuareg are minorities in the countries they presently inhabit, their cultural unity is far-reaching.

Tuareg society is stratified and includes a noble class, tributary groups, and marginal classes made up by religious leaders and artist/smiths called ‘inadan.’ Their economy is based on breeding livestock, agriculture and trade. They speak Tamasheq, a language related to other North-African nomadic peoples, as well as French, and they read and write using a script called ’Tifinar’, which is related to ancient Libya. They are sometimes referred to as “people of the veil” or “the blue people of the Sahara” in reference to the indigo turbans worn by men, which stain their skin and define their identity.

The twentieth century saw profound changes in the Tuareg way of life: the end of French colonial rule and the creation of new countries with established borders; devastating, repeated droughts that decimated herds of livestock; and political marginalization and rebellions. Their social organization and economy have been substantially transformed, and today most Tuareg have given up their nomadic lifestyle, settling instead in villages and towns.

28
Mar
11

The Majorelle garden in Marrakech: Yves Saint Laurent’s secret Moroccan garden

When it comes to experiencing a bit of tranquility, then the Majorelle gardens are the right place to visit. Apart from all the busy life and crowded streets of Marrakech, Majorelle gardens is the place where one can forget everything and enjoy the outmost beauty of nature. Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent are the owners of La Majorelle gardens. Yves Saint Laurent’s ashes were strewn in the entire garden when he passed away in the year of 2008. The French painter known as Jacques Majorelle was the person who actually designed and created this beautiful place. He came to Morocco during the First World War and settled there permanently.

Jacques Majorelle succeeded in the year of 1924 when these exotic gardens were complete and ready. Today this exotic garden is classified as one of the most fantastic botanical gardens located in Marrakech, Morocco. This was a colonial period when France had Morocco has one of his protectorates. Although many people have forgotten about the beauty of watercolors this garden carries but many of them are still kept preserved in the garden’s villa collection. This garden is surely one of the masterpieces any artist will ever create and therefore anyone who visits the sight once always comes back again. The name bleu Majorelle highly reflects from several things that are painted with shades of special cobalt blue; especially the buildings that can easily catch attention right away. In the year of 1947, the Majorelle garden was opened for public to come and admire. It was the year of 1980 when Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent owned this heaven on earth.

Another interesting and attractive feature of the garden is that there’s a museum located in it as well. This museum was actually Majorelle’s personal studio, that was painted with beauty and passion. It carries the Islamic Art or Marrakech that is of high importance of course, and tourists from all around the world come to see it. Some of the things that this museum carries, are beautiful paintings made by Majorelle, old traditional yet beautiful jewelry, ceramics, and North African textiles that are from Saint Laurent’s own personal collections..You get to experience over 300 species of fantastic plants. Many of these plants are placed in attractive pots which are vibrantly colored.

Concrete pathways painted red throughout the garden awaits you to enjoy its lush green environment. So if you ever get a chance to visit Morocco then you cannot afford to miss visiting La Majorelle Garden. This is a place that will keep on calling you back because of its beauty, history, tradition, culture, and soul.

27
Mar
11

Poor children in The Gambia, West-Africa

The Republic of the Gambia, commonly known as The Gambia, is a country in West Africa. The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal, with a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The country is situated around the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake, which flows through the country’s centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its area is almost 10.500 km² with an estimated population of 1.700.000.

A wide variety of ethnic groups live in The Gambia with a minimum of intertribal friction, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka tribe is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola, and Sarahule. Approximately 3.500 non-Africans live in The Gambia, including Europeans and families of Lebanese origin. Muslims constitute more than 90% of the population. Christians of different denominations account for most of the remainder. Gambians officially observe the holidays of both religions and practice religious tolerance.

According to the 1993 census, more than 63% of Gambians lived in rural villages, although more and more young people were coming to the capital in search of work and education. Provisional figures from the 2003 census showed that the gap between the urban and rural populations was narrowing as more areas were declared urban. While urban migration, development projects, and modernization are bringing more Gambians into contact with Western habits and values, the traditional emphasis on the extended family, as well as indigenous forms of dress and celebration, remain integral parts of everyday life.

The UNDP’s Human Development Report for 2010 ranks The Gambia 151st out of 169 countries on its Human Development Index, putting it in the ‘Low Human Development’ category. This index compares life expectancy, years of schooling, Gross National Income (GNI) per capita and some other factors. The Constitution mandates free and compulsory primary education in the Gambia, but a lack of resources and educational infrastructure has made implementation difficult.  In 1995, the gross primary enrolment rate was 77.1 percent and the net primary enrolment rate was 64.7 percent. School fees long prevented many children from attending school, but in February 1998 the President of the Gambia ordered the termination of fees for the first six years of schooling. Girls make up about 40 percent of primary school students, though the figure is much lower in rural areas where cultural factors and poverty prevent parents from sending girls to school. Approximately 20 percent of school-age children attend Koran schools, which usually have a restricted curriculum.

26
Mar
11

ABU SIMBEL, EGYPT: The Great Temples of Ramses 2 and Nefertari

In 1257 BCE, Pharaoh Ramses II (1279-13 BCE) had two temples carved out of solid rock at a site on the west bank of the Nile south of Aswan in the land of Nubia and known today as Abu Simbel.

Long before Ramses II, the site had been sacred to Hathor of Absek. The temple built by Ramses, however, was dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte. Because of their remote location near the Sudanese border in sourthern Egypt, the temples were unknown until their rediscovery in 1813. They were first explored in 1817 by the Egyptologist Giovanni Battista Belzoni.

 The first, and largest of the temples, is dedicated to the sun god Ra-Harakhte, while the second, which is smaller, and a few meters to the north, was dedicated by Ramses II to his beautiful wife, Nefertari, to be worshipped together with other deities.These two temples attracted world-wide attention when they were threatened by inundation by the waters of the High Dam. In response to an appeal by the Arab Republic of Egypt, UNESCO, in 1959, initiated an international donations campaign to save the monuments of Nubia, the relics of the oldest human civilization. The salvage of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1963, and cost some 30 million euros. Once again the Abu Simbel temples were relocated on the plateau to greet the sunrise every morning.

The Greater Abu Simbel Temple (Ramses II)  is one of the many relics erected by the Pharaoh Ramses II, this is the grandest and most beautiful of temples. The facade is 33 meters high, and 38 meters broad, and guarded by four statues of Ramses II, each of which is 20 meters high. High on the facade, there is a carved row of baboons, smiling at the sunrise. On the doorway of the temple, there is a beautiful inscription of the king’s name: Ser-Ma’at-Ra and between the legs of the colossal statues on the facade, we can see smaller statues of Ramses II’s family: his mother “Mut-tuy”, his wife “Nefertari” and his sons and daughters. There is also a number of dedications, important amongst which is Ramses II’s marriage to the daughter of the King of the Hittites. Beyond their entrance, there is the Great Hall of Pillars, with eight pillars bearing the deified Ramses II in the shape of Osiris. The walls of this hall bear inscriptions recording the Battle of Kadesh waged by RamseS II against the Hittites. Then we enter the smaller hall of the temple – the hall of the nobles, containing four square pillars. Then we come to the Holiest of Holies, where we Amun-Ra find four statues of: Ra-Harakhte, Ptah, Amun-Ra and King Ramses II. This temple is unique, since the sun shines directly on the Holiest of Holies two days a year: February 21, the king’s birthday, and October 22, the date of his coronation.

The Smaller Abu Simbel Temple (Nefertari), located north of the Greater Temple, was carved in the rock by Ramses II and dedicated to the goddess of Love and Beauty, Hathur, and also to his favorite wife, Nefertari. The Facade is adorned by six statues, four to Ramses II and two to his wife.