I got my first professional commission from the the Mail on Sunday, (the Mail is the UK's second biggest selling newspaper) to accompany Fergal Keane, BBC reporter on a 5 day trip to the Turkana region of North East Kenya. Fergal had with him a TV cameraman and a half hour documentary will be shown on BBC soon. The point of the documentary was to report on a marginalised community such as the Turkana, a tribe inhabiting the region around the 2nd largest desert lake by the same name, as they live normally, not just when there is a crisis. Though in fact, Turkana suffers from a more drawn-out crisis, that of drought on the one hand, compounded by corrupt central governments that have all but abandoned the Turkana to fend for themselves. It's a cruel axiom that for the poorest in this world, the more basic their needs the less they can depend on help from those whose responsibility it is to provide it. The long rains have failed 2 years in a row, the Lake is shrinking year by year and there is strong anectotal evidence to suggest climate change is a contribiting factor. The Turkana people are warm, self-reliant, good-humoured, humble and tough. Turkana is a hot, dry place: there is little wildlife and roads consist of precipitous dirt tracks that traverse endless dry riverbeds. My trip was the experience of a lifetime and the physical privations of being on the road in such a harsh environment only added to the sense of adventure. Thank you to the Turkana, and the Oxfam crew for extending me every courtesy during my stay. Tha article and some of the pictures in this gallery are published in the Mail on Sunday today November 12.
James, left is father of Lowetan, one of his 35 children from 8 wives. They are pastoralists but their land is suffering from drought. They wish to defend their way of life but environmental change may force them to move and come into conflict with other hard-pressed tribes.
Click here to see the gallery.