Joana Choumali Photography Born in 1974
in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Lives in Abidjan Cococy, Ivory Coast.
In the Kô language of Burkina Faso the word Hââbré means both writing and scarification. Scarification is the practice of performing a superficial incision on human skin. This practice is disappearing due to pressure from religious and state authorities, changing urban practices and the introduction of clothing within tribes. Nowadays only the older people have scarifications. While conducting my research, the majority of images I could find were from the beginning of the 20th century, and only a few contemporary images. I also had trouble finding scarified people to photograph because of their rarity.
This series of portraits leads us to question the link between past and present, and how self-image shifts depending on environment. The sometimes conflicting opinions of our witnesses illustrate the complexity of African identity today in a contemporary Africa torn between its past and its future. This “last generation” of people bearing the imprint of the past on their faces went from being the norm and having a high social value to being somewhat “excluded”. They are the last witnesses of an Africa of a bygone era.