Many cultures offer flowers to honor the dead. In a tribute to the ancestors; flowers are laid in the water with prayer.

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MAAFA ( The Great African Tragedy)

Lisa DuBois | New York, United States

Organization: En Foco


Maafa is a Swahili term that means ("Great Disaster"). This word is known to describe the African Holocaust; referring to the period of time between 1525 and 1866 when 12.5 million Africans were forced on slave-ships bound for North America, the Caribbean and South America. Enslavement of Africans has had an enduring and devastating effect on the human condition.

Ceremonies honoring ancestors became part of African-American culture at the onset of slavery and continues today. The ceremony honors the generations that lived and died as slaves. Research have proven that spiritual rituals are cathartic.

All MAAFA Ceremonies take place near large bodies of water to create a stronger connection with the 2 million tortured souls that perished during the brutal journey from Africa to America. Some people lose awareness of their surroundings as they cross over into a dimension that allows them to communicate with ancestral spirits. At the end of the ceremony the somber mood begins to dissapate and the dancing and drumming begin. 

The invention of photography has impacted humanity in a profound way. Photojournalism has added a layer of sensitivity to the human race facing harsh realities we encounter around the globe. Photography is also an art form that can capture the beauty within a simple or complex subject.

As a photographer I am using my artistic discretion to capture what I feel is important to share with people. My chosen subjects reflect what is most important to me. In essence I am what I photograph.

With camera in hand everything changes. I am suddenly more aware of the colors around me and the type of energy in the air. I see silhouettes and compositions in a more thoughtful way. I am particularly drawn to spiritual and cultural events. MAAFA is part of a larger series of photographs that particularly involves water immersion. I explore the importance of water in rituals and its effect on people. The annual firehose baptism in Harlem is part of the series.

Photographing spiritual ceremonies stirs in me an emotional response that I can visually translate to others. I am drawn into a different world surrounded by the intense energy of mindfulness, music and dance. I capture the spiritual. The unseen is seen.



        Transatlantic Slave Trade


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