.

Photo Samples, West Africa 1

Cape Verde, Mauritania, The Gambia, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso

 

West Africa is the driest and, in many ways, the most boring part of Africa. Dry and dusty and without the multitude of animal wildlife you'll find in the east or south. However, the colour of the people easily compensates for the lack of natural attractions, and nowhere on earth the rhythm and the voodoo are more evident than West Africa. Personal favourites are Mali, Benin, Togo, Mauritania and Saint Louis of Senegal, however, all over the region there are great chances of experiencing "something strange". Just stray away from the beaten track, and chances are that you'll get yourself a colourful experience.

This section covers the region from the west coast of Mauritania, Senegal and Cape Verde all the way to the landlocked countries of Mali and Burkina Faso (former Upper Volta). For photos of the southern countries of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin and Togo, see West Africa 2, and the stretch from Guinee-Bissau and Guinee to Sierra Leone is in part 3. All photos are, as usual © Claus Qvist Jessen, and none of them are to be used without my written permission.

Modern mosque; Nouakchott, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Stranded, Morroccon ship at a sand spit south of Nouadhibou, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The Atlantic outside Nouadhibou, Mauritania, is one of the most productive oceans anywhere, and fishing is the main industry. Most of the catch is "industrial fish" and it is transported by pickup trucl to the factories where the fish is dried into flour. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Small-scal shop; Nouadhibou, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Like any other West African town, Nouadhibou, Mauritania, is full of incredibly run-down French cars. 20 years after they have passed their use-by date in Europe, they are still running in Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Cheeky bike rider; Nouadhibou, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Breakfast coffee is made; Nouadhibou, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Traditional doctor with lots of herbs; Nouadhibou, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Curious girl; Nouadhibou, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Evening stop of the longest train on earth, the ore train running from Nouadhibou to NE Mauritania. Behind 2-4 kms of ore wagons, one passenger cart is attached, providing the traveller with the most uncomfortable 12-15 hours of transportation anywhere. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Jeep traveller; Choum, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local Moor man; Choum, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Very small open-air mosque made of old car parts; Choum, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Hair-dresser; Atar, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Banging corrugated iron sheets into straight building materia; Atar, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Sahara is the region of goats and Atar is no exception. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Feeding the pet goat; Atar, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

One of the main benefits of the French parts of West Africa is the baguette, here from Atar, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Happy girl; Atar, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fetching water by donkey cart; Atar, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Preparing the evening tea; Atar, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Ages ago Chinguetti, Mauritania, was the seventh holiest city of Islam, mainly due to it's many ancient libraries containing lots of antique scriptures. © Claus Qvist Jessen

These days, Chinguetti, Mauritania, is largely deserted. © Claus Qvist Jessen

In Chinguetti, Mauritania, most houses are being slowly swallowed by the Sahara sand. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Ancient book, possible more than 800 years ago; Chinguetti, Mauritania. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Saint Louis, northern Senegal, must be the most charming city anywhere in West Africa - the one place not to be missed. The Pont Fadherbe is designed by none less than Gustave Eiffel of tower fame. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The center of the old capital Saint Louis, northern Senegal, is largely colonial, and not a single bucket of paint has been used since independence in 1960. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Carrying the catch ashore; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

All the fishing boats are very colourful; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fishing boats in the Senegal River with the Guet N'Dar quarter to the left and the Manhattan-like Grench quarter to the right; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A boat is slowly being born; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Straw products; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Dried fish; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Goat market; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Goat transport; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Happy women; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

    

Different lives, different attitudes; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Street scene of southern Guet N'Dar; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local transport; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A boat is never full! Local transport across the Senegal River; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

School girls of aint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Doing the laundry; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Hip-hop attitudes; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Muslim cemetary, Guet N'Dar; Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Traditional grave at the beach of Guet N'Dar, Saint Louis, northern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The main street of Ziguinchor, Casamanche, southern Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local shop; Ziguinchor, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Casamanche is one of the wetter places of West Africa. This road lake occurred after a couple of days of rain - in the dry season; Ziguinchor, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Cutting the grass with a machete; Ziguinchor, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Despite being either Muslim or Christian, most West Africans are strong beleivers of the spirits of the ancestors. These gri-gris round the steering wheel are supposed to protect against evil spirits; Ziguinchor, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

If the gri-gri's don't work, the teddy bears may; Ziguinchor, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Anywhere in "Black Africa", the girls and women spend loads of times doing each other's hair; Ziguinchor, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Cheeky girls; Ziguinchor, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Classic beach of northern Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. Unfortunately, the water is incredibly shallow, making bahing a bit difficult. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fishing boat; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Mangrove swamp; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Cooking the fish; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fetching water; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Almost in jail; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Chaming the photographer; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Great hair-cut; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Brackish water snapper, caught in the mouth of the River Casamanche; Ile de Karabene, Casamanche, Senegal. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Very West African Market scene, Praia, Cape Verde. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Kids playing around a baobab tree, Isla de Fogo, Cape Verde Islands. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Very local and very vegetarian transport; Isla de Fogo, Cape Verde.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

A flying fish "shot" in the middle of an escape jump. Note the line, as the fish is actually hooked; Isla de Fogo, Cape Verde. © Claus Qvist Jessen

A great catch off the coast of Isla de Fogo: A 20+ lbs wahoo, caught on a deep-diving Rapala plug; Cape Verde. © Claus Qvist Jessen

 

Inspired by Alex Haley and his famous book "Roots"; Kololi, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

 

Using an English bill as a "model", this painter is trying hard to paint a pound note on a wall in Kololi, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

 

Chatting women; Kololi, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

 

No parking sign; Banjul, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Drums in any aspect is a integrated part of West African life and it's never too early to start; here from Banjul, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Doing the hair braids seems to take up the majority of West African womens time; Banjul, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Stacking the baguettes in Banjul, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Curious girls on the street, Banjul, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local musician in action on a tourist hotel; Bakau Beach, Gambia.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

Come paint my giraffe! A souvenir vendor at work at Bakau Beach, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Girls in a fishing boat; Gambia River, Banjul, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fishing for small bait fish; Gambia River, Banjul, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Fishermans shags along the Gambia River, Banjul, Gambia.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

Master drummer in action, Bakau, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

One of the best and most underrated markets on earth is the Serekonda Market, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

 

     

Scenes from the Serekonda Market, Gambia. Hardly any tourists ever venture inside the gates, a sad fact showing how afraid Europeans sometimes are to face the "real world". Black people just equals lack of safety despite the fact that Muslim countries generally are very safe. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Local merchants at the Serekonda Market, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

At night, the Serekonda Market becomes even more colourful and vibrant with food and coffee stalls popping up anywhere. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local beauty at the Serekonda Market, Gambia. Despite being Muslim, the dress code is quite un-Islamic. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Very local bar in the inland village of Farafenni; central Gambia. Farafenni is much more Senegal than Gambia, however, even during the Ramadan, there is time to catch a drink in broad daylight.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

Same local bar. The barkeeper shows one of the bar's three empty bottles. The only booze is locally made, and you can chose between 1/4, 1/2 and 1/1 bottle - of course tasting awfully. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local musician playing an ode to the Danish tourist. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local artist admiring a genuine work by Danish tourist Claus Qvist Jessen and contemplating how to fill out the vacancies with colours. A couple of hours later, the cartoon was all colour. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Carrying stuff to the market; Farafenni, Gambia, less flambouant but still one of the most colourful markets in the country. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local girl; Farafenni, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

A fish vendor and a farmer; Farafenni Market, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Colourful elderly women at the Farafenni Market, Gambia. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Colourful pirogue boats in the harbour of Mopti, Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The usual African past-time: Hair-braiding; Mopti, Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Another place closed for the infidels: the mud-built Mosque of Mopti, Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Sometimes, a mosque doesn't have to be big to be sacred. This tiny one is from the harbour district in Mopti, Mali, and as always the merhab is pointing towards Mecca. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Tiny river boat on the Niger River between Mopti and Kabara, the harbour of Timbuktu (Mali). © Claus Qvist Jessen

 

Floating merchants, Niger River, Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Mud mosque; Timbucto (Tomboctou), central Mali. For centuries, Timbuctu was the centre of flourishing empire, based upon trade across the Sahara. Bypassed by European ships and trucks, Timbuctu is merely a ghost town these days, though getting a bit of money from the tourists. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Pure Sahara at the outskirts of Timbuctu, Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Tuareg woman in the Sahara a few miles away from Timbuctu, Mali.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

Danish tourist Pia quenching her thirst while the Tuareg (Touareg) guide quenches that of the camel; Timbuctu, Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Largest mud building in the world: The Mosque of Djenné, Mali.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

Unfortunately, after an Italian fashion photographer filled the mosque with light-dressed models, non-Muslims are not allowed inside; Djenné, Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

La Failasse de Bandiagara, home of the famous animist tribes of Pays Dogon; central Mali. For centuries, the escarpment has been the refuge against the Muslims from the north and the . © Claus Qvist Jessen

Baobab tree from the bottom of the valley. In the background is La Failasse de Bandiagara; Pays Dogon, central Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Ruined mud buildings; Pays Dogon, central Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

More ruined mud buildings; western Pays Dogon, central Mali.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

The traditional houses of Pays Dogon, central Mali. The living quarters are made of rocks, while the square, thatched huts are grain storage - one for each wife! © Claus Qvist Jessen

Being the spiritual leader of the whole region, this medicine man is not allowed to leave his hill-side cave. He is fed by donations, and every night a cobra comes and licks him clean - or so the story goes; Pays Dogon, central Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Grinding the millet; Pays Dogon, central Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Local butchers at the market; Pays Dogon, central Mali. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The extremely colourful local markets are held according to a five-day week; Pays Dogon, central Mali. Be certain to be there - if you can. This one is from the village of Songi. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Village market outside Banfora, south-western Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)Togo. © Claus Qvist Jessen

"So, what's up??" Proud mama from a village outside Banfora, south-western Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)Togo. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The holy catfish of Dafra, south-western Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)Togo, close to Banfora. The fish are about 10 kgs each, but fishing is strictly prohibited as the fish are regarded as sacred and even fed every day. © Claus Qvist Jessen

Sorting the grain; north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta).
© Claus Qvist Jessen

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Crowded jeep between Dori and Gorom-Gorom, north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta). Apart from the present passengers, another ten (including me) jumped off to take a pee. © Claus Qvist Jessen

The simple and orderly inside of a nomade tent; Dori, north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta).
© Claus Qvist Jessen

Sunset girl; Dori, north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta).
© Claus Qvist Jessen

Happy gold miners from the mining town of Essakane; north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta). Taking photographs inside the open mines is a stict offense, so you'll have to do with the outside.
© Claus Qvist Jessen

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Local prospectors digging for gold outside the government fencing; north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta). © Claus Qvist Jessen

Local boy with his home-made toy; Essakane, north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)Togo. © Claus Qvist Jessen

One of the most colourful markets on the planet must be the Thursday market of Gorom-Gorom, north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta). © Claus Qvist Jessen

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Happy camel at the Thursday market of Gorom-Gorom, north-eastern Burkina Faso (Upper Volta). The colour of the market is greatly enhanced by all the different tribes, including the Fulani, such as the gentleman behind the camel. The Fulani are Muslim and have a tradition of dealing with livestock. © Claus Qvist Jessen

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