The Power of the Image: Africa

“I dream of an Africa which is at peace with itself.”

Nelson Mandela

Over many decades, David Attenborough and his team have captured images of the world that have left us amazed and sometimes speechless. We’ve seen footage of unknown, undiscovered and unimagined surprises and delights, none more so than his current programme on Africa.

When you think there is no more to see, this man and his team open our eyes once more.

The following photographs are still shots taken whilst watching the “Africa” programme. Whilst they might not be perfect, and could probably be seen on the internet in clearer detail, they are a record of my viewing that lead to further thoughts about how much of this world remains unseen by my own eyes, and how these images could be used in schools.

I am enthralled by the beauty but also by the opportunities that such pictures offer. Even if I never set foot on this fascinating and mesmerising continent, I can still imagine, and I can still think about my personal response to carefully considered images that are brought to me.

Every child with access to this programme in Britain and abroad should sit quietly and contemplate whilst watching. It’s not just about the images. It’s about life – and death. It offers us an opportunity to think about creation – its peaks, its flaws. It reminds us of the catastrophes and the energy of the elements that play such a significant role in our lives, often without us realising.

It enables us to think beyond our own experience, and allows us to glimpse into another world that isn’t so very far from our own.

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These images could be used in so many ways in schools.

Philosophy – literally translated is “the love of wisdom”. Working on philosophy in schools enables children and young people to think about their world, their lives, their beliefs, their values. Allowing time for thoughtfulness paves the way for imagination and creativity, freeing the learner to develop in their own way. It nurtures language, hypotheses, listening skills, articulation.

There’s a fortnight’s worth of lessons in these photos alone.

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Living Together

Lion and flies

We all thrive on the warmth from others.
Do parasites have their place?
Are humans the greatest parasites on the earth?

Flamingoes 1

“I’m a reflection of the community.”
Tupak Shakur

Elephants together

“I don’t even remember the season. I just remember walking between them and feeling for the first time that I belonged somewhere.”
Stephen Chbosky – “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Africa hippos 2

“I know there is strength in the difference between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”
Ani DiFranco

Why is it that animals congregate together? Survival? Love? Conditioning? 
We can gain so much from togetherness. Some understanding of humanity comes from a sense of belonging, without a need to lose your individuality.

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Fighting

A real scrapElephants fightingTwo hippos

Is it really worth the fight?

We are animals just like the hippopotamus and the elephant. Our instinct is sometimes to fight or flee from trouble. When you hold onto a belief in something, it’s sometimes difficult to walk away. What sets us apart from the animals is our ability to think beyond the instinctual but sometimes the instinct is that strong and is linked directly to survival.

Passion, lust, allure, need, desire, hope.

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Dying

Baby elephant dying

A child lies dying
Craving water listlessly
Returning to earth.

“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them, and that is eternity.”
Edvard Munch

Bereft mother

A mother’s trauma
Undeniably heartfelt
What this life’s about.

Lost mother

She trundles alone
Through the loneliness of grief
To the waiting herd.

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The Herd, The Family

Elephants and sunlightElephants and tornadoFamilies

“There is mystery behind that masked grey visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.”
Peter Matthiessen – “The Tree Where Man Was Born”

We’re all in this together, they say. In good times and in bad.  Friends are the family you choose but sometimes, friends are from within the family too. I once saw a greeting card that said “Friends are God’s apology for family” which struck me as flippant and immature. It would take a vain and thoughtless friend to believe such a statement, even in jest, wouldn’t it?

Our friends are vital but what can we learn from the humble elephant about the power and the depth of the relationship between father and daughter, mother and son, aunt and nephew, grandparent and grandchild?

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Are we alone?

Mountains of AFrica

Sun and water

Savannah

Mountains and volcanoes

Are we alone or is the whole world an open space, full of life, inviting us to play our part and respect the wilderness of our own minds?

A cameraman

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Coming Together

Salt 5Salt 4Salt 3Salt 2Salt 1

“The salts of the earth”

Who’d have thought it? The salt and the earth coming together to create the most incredible spectacle of vibrancy in the middle of the earth, untouched and unnoticed by all humankind. How can we mix to make a perfect image? How can we contrast and converge simultaneously?

How perfect can our world be?

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Open our eyes

Africa BBC

“Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!”
Leonard Da Vinci

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”
Bob Marley

“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before. What if I knew I would never see it again?””
Rachel Carson

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“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living. “

David Attenborough

CB

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