KIDNAPPED!  This is me as a little girl in the Ivory Coast, kidnapped by the “mask of comedy” of the Guéré tribe.  My parents were working for Jeune Afrique, shooting photos for a book on the Ivory Coast, when the mask took me, and refused to return me to my parents unless they paid a ransom of $10.
More Kidnapped!

My Father the Visionary

MY FATHER, THE VISIONARY:  In this photo, my father, Michael Kirtley, is dressed as a Touareg, and sits contemplating the vast Sahara, and beyond.  To me, this photo is symbolic of his essence.  He is a visionary.  When he looks in front of him, his vision is not limited to what lies ahead.  He sees beyond, to the infinite possibilities that the world offers, which he envisions with boundless wisdom. … More My Father the Visionary

Wodaabe Fathering

WODAABE FATHERING: If the pygmy is considered the best dad in the world, then the Wodaabe Fulani father doesn’t fall too far behind in ranking.  One saying among the Fulani men is “you start living when you’ve been pooped on by a child”… hmmm… In many Wodaabe communities, childrearing falls completely in their hands for large parts of the year. … More Wodaabe Fathering

The Double Standard

THE DOUBLE STANDARD: Soon after the construction of the Tangarwashane borehole, Denis and I called a village meeting to order.  When I arrived, I was astounded to see that I was the only women.  I asked, “where are all the women, particularly the women members of the management committee?”.
More The Double Standard

The Family Portrait

THE FAMILY PORTRAIT: In this photo, you can see Alhassan with his wife, Sadouan, and their children.  Mouheini, who you might remember from another photo, is their eldest child.  She was not present when this photo was taken, given that she was in her husband’s camp tending to her own children. 
More The Family Portrait


ALHASSAN: In this photo, one of my best friends, Alhassan, watches his son adoringly as he takes a nap.  Alhassan is not only a wonderful husband and father within his family, he was also my host father, and the person that introduced me to the Azawak. With his broken English that he learned in Nigeria, he and I were able to have long discussions without the help of a translator.  This made me feel close to Alhassan rather quickly. … More Alhassan

The Teacher

THE TEACHER: This father is teaching Arabic to his son. When I met him, he was also teaching Arabic to Bintou, the little girl with the tablet covered in Koranic scripture, from the village of Tchinwagari.  Those of you who have read my previous posts know that I am sometimes (often) frustrated with the reticence that people in the Azawak have sending their children to school.  … More The Teacher

Ndima, The Forest

NDIMA, THE FOREST: Ndima, a BaAka pygmy, sits with his wife and child, who plays with a chord that Ndima just finished making.  The rope will be used to make a traditional hunting net. Ndima, whose name means “the forest”, was very special to me. True to his name, he incarnated the forest and was a true master of the jungle. He knew it’s every secret.  … More Ndima, The Forest

Why School?

In this photo, the chief of Tangarwashane, Mohammed, fetches water for his son.  Like most other Touareg fathers I know, he would do most anything for his children.  And while he is the village chief, he shares in daily village tasks with the other village men, such as caring for the community borehole built by @ammanimman, tending to their community garden, caring for the livestock, etc.  His function as chief is to help guide the community through his experience and wisdom, and to make final decisions when a consensus cannot be reached. … More Why School?