Art, Books October 11, 2010 By Sarah Coleman

Njemps Sister and Brother Kenya, 1985

Njemps Sister and Brother, Kenya, 1985

     I also love the spread on page 103, from Kenya — two images that are a little more photojournalistic. You show children dancing in a circle, and opposite, a young child carrying a baby and looking back at you. In some way, perhaps because the baby’s back is to the camera, that image reminds me of the iconic Dorothea Lange image Migrant Mother.
     Thank you! Dorothea Lange has been one of the most important influences in my work as a photographer. I love those images also. The children dancing in a circle broke the portrait rhythm of the book a little, but I wanted it there and felt it could work. Those are of Njemps children in a very impoverished lake island in central Kenya. I was very touched by them, and I wanted to highlight their essential joy rather than their poverty.

In 2007, after thirty years of lobbying, the United Nations issued its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The US has not signed it yet. Why are we holding out?
I can’t really say, but in general, these issues always relate to money and power. The four countries who voted against this declaration [Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States] all have very organized indigenous groups. Happily, Australia and New Zealand have since reversed their votes, and Australia apologized to its aboriginal population. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., announced months ago that the US was formally reviewing its position.

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