THE NEW YORK TIMES
Danses et chants traditionnels de mariage des Nubiens au Kenya
The Places Where Nowhere Is HomeBy KERRI MACDONALD
Greg Constantine learned a great deal about the Nubians in Kenya when he spent a month photographing them in Kibera, an expansive and well-documented Nairobi slum. He poured over a rare collection of archival photographs collected from community members. He helped shape a comprehensive, and largely unseen, visual narrative of the culture.
Yet Mr. Constantine still has no idea how many Nubians there are in Kibera, once a village called Kibra. Unacknowledged until 2009 in Kenya’s census, the Nubians are a stateless people, without the rights of citizens. They are the subjects of just one chapter in Mr. Constantine’s project “Nowhere People,” which is on display at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York through Thursday as part of an exhibit called “The World’s Stateless.”
Mr. Constantine, a self-taught American photographer, started researching statelessness in 2005. Early the next year, he moved to Asia from Los Angeles to pursue the project, which he financed himself. When the time came to look for outside financial resources, he ran into difficulty.
“It was kind of like selling, or validating, the power that documentary photography could have,” Mr. Constantine said. Despite the number of groups that had been working with the issue of statelessness, the visual aspect of the story wasn’t there.
His luck improved after his work was featured in The International Herald Tribune in 2007. The following year, he met with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which ultimately supported his trip to Kenya.
“Nowhere People” spans continents. It is an immense, moody body of work composed of different chapters, each telling a complex story.
Mr. Constantine faced the challenge of capturing each group’s historical context.
“Society has changed over the past 60 years in the creation of nation states,” he said. “In a lot of places in the world, your neighbor was the person that said: ‘We know who you are. You belong here. You were born here. You have rights here.’ ”
The Nubians, who at one time were Sudanese recruits to the British Army, have lived in the Kibera region for more than 100 years. After just two days there, Mr. Constantine said he could not believe the story he had stumbled upon. It was one that seemed, compared with others, almost hopeful. “They’re really resting on the cusp of getting the recognition that they deserve,” he said.
At the end of his first month, he felt something was missing from the story. He decided to juxtapose his work with the old photographs that many Nubians had shown him. “To be able to communicate what a community has lost, it’s valuable to show what they had,” he said.
Mr. Constantine received a grant from the Open Society Institute to create a digital archive of Nubian history, and he recruited young Nubians to go door to door in Kibera asking people to lend him old photographs.
“Then and Now,” the monthlong exhibition that resulted, gave Kenyans the first visual history of the Nubian community. One hundred images — 50 taken by Mr. Constantine and 50 archival photographs — were arranged side by side on large sheets of vinyl. At the end of August, a smaller, outdoor exhibition went up in Kibera.
Mr. Constantine plans to work on “Nowhere People” for another year. Most recently, he traveled to the Dominican Republic. Beginning in October, the work will be published in a series of books, the first of which is “Kenya’s Nubians: Then and Now.”
Mr. Constantine, who was once a music industry professional, had not worked as a serious photographer for long before he started “Nowhere People.” By photographing groups whose distinctive identities are not recognized, he has, in many ways, created his own professional identity.
Kenya : une maison nubienne d’une centaine d’années au mileu du bidonville de Kibera
Kenya : un Nubien et des personnes âgées au club social à Kibera
Bengladesh : une minorité musulmane de Birmanie a été exclue de leur citoyenneté en 1982. Elle travaille aujourd’hui pour des pêcheurs.
Bangladesh : Un Rohingya qui a fui la Birmanie est aujourd’hui borgne d’un oeil après avoir été battu sur la tête par son employeur.
Bangladesh : un camp de réfugiés Pakistanais où l’on parle le Urdu.
Bangladesh : Les membres du comité des réfugiés Pakistanais à Dhaka
Côte d’Ivoire : Abdoulsy; 60 ans est né au Burkina Faso et a passé une grande partie de sa vie en Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire; jeux d’enfants nés de parents étrangers menacés de perdre leur nationalité
Népal : Un Dalit, sans citoyenneté sec repose à côté de son petit fils
Népal : Cérémonie nuptiale: la mariéée a dû abandonner sa citoyenneté pour rejoindre le pays de son mari népalais au risque de voir le ,ariage annulé.
Ukraine : cette femme de 73 ans est arrivée d’Abkhasie avec un passeport de l’Union Soviétique expiré depuis plus de dix ans
More from the “Nowhere People” project can be seem at www.nowherepeople.org.