I BeKoZ YoU, Act 1: the confinement of life-giving stars is rooted in the African philosophy of Ubuntu (“I am because you are”) which suggests that “one’s humanity is affirmed through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference" (1).
In the heart of the rainforest of Democratic Republic of Congo, a small community of indigenous people, the Ekonda Batwa, celebrate certain first time-mothers for giving life. This ancient rite of passage provides young girls, called Walés, with a group process for initiating them into womanhood. It supports their transformation into powerful sovereign women.
Even in the most secluded parts of the forest, humanity progresses. Questioning traditions and building new values, the ritual’s metamorphosis is a beautiful case in point of the Walés’ intrinsic modernity. This project aims to show that they are actually part of a tradition of resisting African women who have survived patriarchal oppression by relying on collective feminine rituals and creative expression (2).
1 Michael Onyebuchi Eze
2 Minna Salami
Illustration: Ila Dani for Patrick Willocq
Boomo Bialé & The Walés is the signature name of an artistic collaboration between French photographer and humanist Patrick Willocq and several young Congolese first-time mothers, dancers and singers, a.k.a The Walés, identifying as Ekonda Batwa, an indigenous people of Democratic Republic of Congo.
The naïve mise en scene images, co-created with the Walés, of the various series that form part of the body of work Songs of the Walés (2013-2016), an internationally acclaimed and exhibited photography project, revealed the rising of new ethnographic subjectivity that operates from the realm of participatory artistic production (3).
I BeKoZ YoU, a story told in three acts, is their latest brainchild, four years in the making.
3 Azu Nwagbogu