I have this photo on the wall in my hallway. I have made a gallery of some of my black and white prints from my darkroom days and this is one of my favorites.
This boy lives in northern Benin or Togo. I don’t know anymore. He is of the Lobe tribe which has a fear and hostility toward strangers, perhaps a result of years of being hunted and captured by slavers. The tribe builds castle-like houses encompassed by a high wall and only one door to the enclosure where an extended family might live.
The boy is holding a cloth. Maybe it was a part of a t-shirt or maybe just a scrap of fabric. This scrap was his clothing. All the other children we saw on that afternoon wore cast off clothing from western countries. This child had only this scrap, but he ‘wore’ it as best he could. He’d try to wrap it around his waist, but it was too small to tie, so he held it to himself.
He is a beautiful little boy. What a great physique. His usual diet would consist of millet porridge and fufu, a white, gloppy concoction of pounded yam, with a pepper sauce. Now and then they might have bush rat. My niece was in the Peace Corps in Ivory Coast. They, too, ate bush rat. When Heather saw that on the table, she instantly became a vegetarian.
Here’s what barbecued bush rat looks like:
I called this blog, “Adam” because the boy tries to hide his nakedness with the cloth, like Adam and Eve after the fall.