“Rwandan refugee camp with mother and child” by Sebastiao Salgado

11-SalgadoSebastiao Salgado, Rwandan refugee camp with mother and child, Tanzania, 1994, black and white photograph.

Brazilian photographer “Sebastião Salgado first went to Rwanda in 1971. He was a young economist at the time, helping local communities develop their own tea and coffee plantations. He returned in 1991, by then a celebrated photographer, and was astonished by the transformation. “Oh boy! The tea plantation was the most beautiful plantation in the world.” Rwanda was beginning to enjoy its wealth, and the plantation workers were learning how to work the land for their own benefit.

In 1994 and 1995, Salgado returned again. This time he was horrified by the transformation. Civil war had ravaged the land, and Hutu extremists had killed 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates in a three-month genocide. The plantation had been burnt down, and families who’d worked on it had moved to Congo or been hacked to death. He saw the most terrible carnage and desolation. The fertile, prospering nation had become a sterile wasteland, a cemetery more than a country.” (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/dec/04/weekendmagazine.sebastiaosalgado)

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