a small boy...

The "small boy" is a significant source of energy in Africa. He will obediently perform any number of requested tasks throughout the day -- mostly fetching and carrying -- tirelessly and without hesitation. The usual advice one gets when needing to handle some arbitrary chore is, "Just find a small boy."

The sweet child here is the son of a tenant farmer. During my stay in Wonougba he was in constant motion: helping with the work, transporting supplies, fetching utensils, carrying messages, caring for younger siblings. All the while he seemed in good spirits, as though happy to be needed.

The lithe and delicate form of this petit gamin suggests a vulnerability that contrasts with the sheer physical vigour needed for survival, in an environment where even the trunks of shade trees are spiked with forbidding, flesh-shredding thorns.

Togo, June 2007.

Rolleiflex 3.5E2 Xenotar, Fomapan 400.