As I sit and stare out across the landscape in front of my house, as it stretches 60km’s into the distance, it dawns on me that the true magic of Africa lies in space. Acres and acres of space. The sad facts about the space lie in the failure of Africa to feed and clothe itself. This, however, is not any fault of Africans but of a harsh climate coupled with an unrelenting earth that does not easily reward efforts to tame it. The early migration of man, northwards, to greener pastures has created this space and the animals of Africa that were left behind simply adapted and made this space their own. Of course, this space is now in jeopardy in the 21st Century but as long as the climate remains harsh and unrelenting we will be able to enjoy the benefits of this space.
Down in the more affluent area of Africa, namely the good old South, human encroachment has pushed the animals back behind fences and into cages and the glory of the wide open plains is fast disappearing. But as one heads further North where development has not been able to get the same foothold we are still able to experience the true wilderness of a Continent that is unnervingly beautiful in its raw state. No power lines, no telephones, no highrise buildings and certainly very bad roads. All of these are key requirements for the survival of a wilderness area and its inhabitants, the animals.
As a photographer, besides capturing images of animals, I have become fascinated with trying to capture that essence of space in my work. It is, however, hauntingly difficult to achieve. On my now, almost forgotten, trip to the Masai Mara I took along a wide angle lens and finally started to get a sense of space in the images. The Masai Mara, although a fairly well frequented area with its Lodges and Camps dotted on its borders can still, theoretically at least, be considered a wilderness as within its boundaries animals roam free without the confines of fences. An area devoid of much vegetation other than the billowing grass that feeds the millions of wildebeest, the landscape rolls out before your eyes and you can truly sense that beguiling beauty that words fail to describe.
As Africans we should be jealously guarding these spaces. It is here that we can continue to visit our Mecca and experience the peace and harmony that only the African Plains can offer us. We owe it to the ever adaptable animals of Africa to keep their Eden a reality.