Friday, 20 May 2011

Nick Riley: The Witch Doctor Of Tanzania

Photo © Nick Riley-All Rights Reserved
"For issues of love and business, property and health, people in Tanzania will visit a witch doctor. The job description appears to vary significantly between individuals. Some can help to find lost property, others specialise in healing the unwell, others still in raising curses on those that have wronged you."
My readers will immediately know that this photography essay is one that The Travel Photographer's blog relishes in featuring.

But first things first. Nick Riley is a UK photographer, currently working in Tanzania. His work has featured extensively in the press, including BBC Wildlife magazine, where he won photograph of the month. In June 2010 he was shortlisted for Photographer Of The Year. He worked on projects for clients across the public and corporate sectors, including the NHS and Diageo, but his passion is for documentary and wildlife photography.

The Witch Doctor is a multi-gallery photo essay, arranged in a blog format. Nick was allowed to photograph during the healing sessions conducted by a witch doctor in a poor suburb of Dar Es Salaam. In a tiny room filled with incense, and lined with various shells, leaves, carvings, coins, jars and packets of various powders. It was there that the witch doctor started her magic.

These are extremely atmospheric photographs, and are very well composed despite the difficult circumstances. Short of being there, I would have loved to hear the ambient sound from these sessions! Beautiful and rich colors...And do take the time to explore the other entries in Nick's blog. Well worth it.

It should be mentioned that although Islam orthodoxy frowns on witch doctors and other sorcery for exorcism, other sects less strict tolerate (and even encourage) such traditional ways to rid those afflicted with jinns and evil spirits.