Guy Tillim

Guy Tillim has been photographing in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire) over the past decade. In 2006 he revisited the contact sheets of his travels in the eastern Congo in 2002 and came across this series of child soldiers, which he had previously overlooked. In his exhibition and book Leopold and Mobutu (2004), a poignant reflection on the sad similarities between the colonial powers and the African dictators empowered by them, he included a series of eight portraits of young Mai Mai militia taken outdoors (see below). At the time he photographed the child soldiers they were not being used as a traditional defence militia but being drafted into one of the rebel factions in the battle for the mineral riches of east Congo.

Mai Mai militia in training near Beni, eastern DRC, for immediate deployment with the APC (Armée Populaire du Congo), the army of the RCD-KIS-ML, December 2002, installation photograph, 2006.

Portrait I

Portrait II

Portrait III

Portrait IV

Portrait V

Portrait VI

Portrait VII

Portrait VIII

Portrait IX

Portrait X

Portrait XI

Portrait XII

Portrait XIII

Portrait XIV

Portrait XV

Portrait XVI



Soldiers17 June - 19 July 2003
Guy Tillim's Soldiers series of black-and-white handprints were taken between December 2002 and January 2003 and convey the devastating effect on civilians of the five-year war between the Congolese government and the ever-splintering rebel groups. According to UN figures, some two million people have been displaced by the conflict in eastern Congo.

On assuming power in 2001, President Joseph Kabila pledged to honor civil and political rights, but throughout 2002 he continued to exercise autocratic powers inherited from his late father and predecessor, Laurent Desire Kabila. The Ugandan and Rwandan governments continue to support various factions in securing access to one of the richest mineral areas in Africa (gold, diamonds, cobalt and columbia tantalite, or coltan). None of the factions have shown any respect for the civilian population, or for any length of time honoured their cease-fire agreements.

Congo

1. Mai Mai militia in training

2. Mai Mai militia in training

3. Mai Mai militia in training

4. Mai Mai militia in training

5. Mai Mai militia in training

6. Mai Mai militia in training

7. Mai Mai militia in training

8. Mai Mai militia in training



Sierra Leone

These portraits were made near Koidu in Sierra Leone of Kamajoor (hunter) militias in June 2001. They are traditional defence militias who responed to the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) tyranny in the area, defending their villages against annihilation. The militias, wearing protective amulets and their preparation shrouded in ritual, became collectively defined by the government as the Civil Defence Force and colloquially known as the Kamajoors.



9. Kamajoor (hunter) militias, Koidu, Sierra Leone, 2001

10. Kamajoor (hunter) militias, Koidu, Sierra Leone, 2001

11. Kamajoor (hunter) militias, Koidu, Sierra Leone, 2001

12. Kamajoor (hunter) militias, Koidu, Sierra Leone, 2001

13. Kamajoor (hunter) militias, Koidu, Sierra Leone, 2001

14. Kamajoor (hunter) militias, Koidu, Sierra Leone, 2001


© 2003 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.