Tuesday, February 13, 2018

We all have at least two languages


Yesterday, while listening to the news, it dawned on me that we can speak two languages: The language of the world and the language of the soul.
 
 
• I was thinking in the language of the world when I asked the remote Konso tribe elders what advice they would give world leaders. 
 
• Amazingly, one elder answered in the language of the soul: “We are all made by God. We are all the same. No mater what your tribe, no mater what your religion, we all bleed the same color blood.”
 
Then he raised his hand with fingers outstretched to conclude: “We all have five fingers.”

Friday, December 22, 2017

Kids' chores remote Africa style


This little bare-bottomed Hamar tribe boy leads the family cattle every morning to the water hole more than a mile away. The image tugged at my heart strings while working on a brochure to pitch museums for a We All Have Five Fingers show. 



Would you include the photograph in the brochure?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Here's happens after you die


LaBun, the famous Bume tribe storyteller in Ethiopia explained to me that when a person dies, he becomes the devil trickster with skin like a rock and a single horn. 



Even though he lives underground, the trickster can cause great mischief for the living. 

Do thoughts of a deceased person haunt you? 

Bume tribe, Omo region, Ethiopia, Africa

Saturday, October 28, 2017

I watched a Dogon shaman dream a Bad Spirit


After scrambling down and down over steep boulder-filled trail, my interpreter and I entered the tiny village of Koundou Gina. We wanted to meet the most powerful shaman in the region.

A woman enters the outskirts of Koundou Gina village, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.
As we hiked through dried stalks of a corn field, my interpreter explained that many people came from distant villages to meet with Dugui Dugene (Medicine Man). We met the simple harmless-looking shaman just outside his stone house.

Powerful Dugui Dugene (Medicine Man) showing me how he removes doogu doogu from a person. Koundou Gina village, Dogon tribe, Mail, Africa.

After a bit of chatter, I asked about Doogu Doogu and other terrible things caused by bad spirits.

In an casual tenor voice, the Medicine Man explained: "The bad spirit is created by God. Both good and bad spirits are created by God."

Medicines Dugui Dugene (Medicine Man) gathers in the forest to heal people that come to Koundou Gina village from surrounding villages. Dogon tribe, Mail, Africa.

Medicine Man continued: "We don't see the bad spirits because they have much magic power. They could be right here right now. We just don't see them.

The shaman paused a bit, pointed at me. Then: "But they can see us."

Squating with his back against the mud wall of his one-room house, Medicine Man continued: "I can see them in my dream. When I sleep at night time, I can see them. 

"The bad spirit look like a man. They wear clothes. But some of them has a cow head. Some has only one hand. And some has one breast. Some look like men but not complete man. And always have two, three or ten heads. 

Then he pointed to his hand. "Some have kind of feet here. The feet are cow feet."
 
My visualization of the Dogon bad spirit as described by the Dogon tribe Medicine Man in Koundou Gina village, Mali, Africa.

When I asked Medicine Man if he was afraid of the bad spirit in his dreams, he replied nonchalantly: "Afraid some, a little bit, but not that much."

Janis: "I would be very afraid."

Medicine Man: "If you suppose to walk with bad spirit and you afraid, they always come to afraid you. And if you afraid of them, you can be crazy. You can become crazy. They can do you something bad." 

Janis: "Can I take a picture of you like you are sleeping, like you are dreaming?






Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Would you call them primitive?


Ireli village, Mali. Dogon tribe elders make decisions in this togouna.
Togouna, Irelli village, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.
No ideological parties. No name calling. No party agendas. They talk. They respect each other. And they act like adults.
Medicine man, Irelli village, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.
Would you call that primitive?

Togouna in the edge of an Irelli village courtyard, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fires rage towards four of my favorite Napa vineyards



Sunset over early Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road.
Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
As I write this newsletter, with the fire situation in Napa and Sonoma counties changing by the hour, I’m not 100% sure that four of my favorite Napa vineyards will be spared from the devastating fires ripping through the wine country.


Early Spring valley fog begins creeping over Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.

At least four Napa vineyards are totally destroyed or significantly damaged. One Napa winery—Signorello Estate—has been completely destroyed. Nine other wineries reported damage to their winery, outbuildings or vineyards. 

All 5000 residents of Calistoga evacuated, and there are 1000s of homes already destroyed in the Napa- Sonoma area. This will be a vintage to remember.



Cain Five vineyard
Wednesday evening: I just received an email from Christopher Howell, winemaker at Cain Five Vineyard, that they are safe for right now.
Big oak tree in Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
Early Spring valley fog begins creeping over Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
The distinctive rock outcropping dominates the Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.


Screaming Eagle Vineyard
Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road. While the wine consistently receives rave reviews from critics, my problem is two-thousand dollars a bottle prevents me, a common photographer, from enjoying the wine. USA, California, Napa Valley. 
Sunset light colors the hills above the Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road. Napa Valley.




Oakville Ranch Summit Vineyard
Springtime view of Napa Valley looking towards Calistoga and Mt. Saint Helena from Oakville Ranch Summit Vineyard, Napa County, California,


Newton Vineyard
View of Newton Vineyard on Spring Mountain above St. Helena in Napa Valley, California.
Napa Valley wine country.
A hot air balloon and fog float in the Spring green Napa Valley below Newton Vineyard on Spring Mountain above St. Helena, California. Napa Valley wine country.

Looking at the lush view in these photographs, I can only imagine what the Napa hills and valley will look like after the fires rake through the area with their smudged black fingers.















Monday, September 11, 2017

Reflecting on America's 9/11: bees or missiles, which is better to twart an attack



On this anniversary of America's 9/11 attack, I can't help recall a story I heard from the tiny Bedik tribe tucked away in the remote southeast corner of Senegal.

My illustration of the Bedik story of bees killing attacking Muslims. Bedik tribe, Senegal, Africa.

On my first journey to the Bedik, the village "historian" told me the story of how Muslims once attacked the tribe because they refused to be converted to Islam.

It was terrible. Many Bedik were killed in the attack. Out of desperation, the tribe prayed to their spirits for help. The spirits then sent bees, many bees, which killed the Muslim attackers. The bees saved the tribe. And they still refuse to become Muslim.

On my second trip to the Bedik, not long after 9/11, I heard the story again, this time from the chief.  

Now, all these years later, I'm still trying to grasp similarities and differences between the Bedik story and 9/11.

Bedik village, Senegal, Africa.

Faith that their spirits would help by sending bees, saved the Bedik. 

America sent missiles. Will that be enough to save America?