The Ju/’hoansi people of Tsumkwe and neighboring villages in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia are the subjects of a photo set that has been loaded into flickr over the past week. The photographer, Izla Kaya, includes numerous charming portraits of people of all ages.
Many of the people shots are really wonderful, even if they are posed portraits. Children are cute, young women look healthy, older people look as if they’re full of character. These portraits are definitely better than the shots the photographer included that show people doing things.
For instance, the photographer has posted a picture of a couple boys playing with their handmade cars, a nice action shot. Unfortunately, the faces of the two boys are both in shadow. It is one of the less successful pictures in the set, which includes 164 photos. In a photo titled “Streams of Living Water,” the faces of the people are dark and it is difficult to tell what they are doing, but one can infer from the paragraphs accompanying the picture that it may have been taken inside a water facility. The stone wall in the background must be the elephant fence the text refers to.
The photographer was obviously captivated by the colorful beadwork of the Ju/’hoansi women. A number of shots show bead bracelets, necklaces, purses, and other beautiful possessions. While this photo set does not rival the massive archive of pictures taken by John Marshall many decades ago and loaded into flickr by Documentary Educational Resources, these pictures are contemporary. They certainly foster an appreciation for the dignity and beauty of the Ju/’hoansi today.
Izla Kaya visited the Kalahari in the summer of 2008 as a volunteer for a group called the Pilgrim Relief Society, a non-profit NGO that supports the needs of the Ju/’hoansi as well as people in other parts of the world.