A photographer and filmmaker shares a portrait of an Amazigh woman and her story of courage and resilience.
WORDS AND IMAGE İnanç Tekgüç
I am a photographer, filmmaker, and visual anthropologist from the island of Cyprus. As a part of my craft, I enjoy portraying people of diverse backgrounds. In my most recent project, my colleague Eda Elif Tibet and I collaborated with an Amazigh family living in Morocco. I had the privilege to accompany the Ben Youssef family and their livestock during a 150-kilometer-long transhumant journey to the High Atlas Mountains. Together, we coproduced a film called Aït Atta: Nomads of the High Atlas.
Here I’m sending you a portrait of Zahra Ben Youssef, a member of the family. I hope you can feel the reverent strength in her gaze, coming from centuries of her community’s transhumant and/or nomadic heritage. The remarkable resilience demonstrated by Zahra, a single mother, and her larger family in these changing and challenging times gives me a lot of inspiration. As just one example, Zahra gave birth to her son all by herself while out shepherding their animals. She even cut the umbilical cord! After a good dinner and a night’s rest, she was back tending the animals the next day.
Along with other tribes in the area, this Amazigh community practices a centuries-old system of communal land management in reciprocity with their environment. Every year they restrict entry to a specific territory during the spring months. This high-altitude area provides much-needed grass that is hard to come by in dry, lower altitudes. In turn, manure from the grazing animals enriches the soil for the seeds that are dispersed during the off-limits months.
My hope is that people like Zahra and her community have a chance to continue and transform their lifestyles, in the ways they want, while enriching the cultural diversity of our world.
With warm regards from the High Atlas,
İnanç ‘Inca’ Tekgüç is a freelance photographer and filmmaker with a background and interest in anthropology, biocultural diversity, and ethnographic documentation. He collaborates internationally with various NGOs, mainly the Global Diversity Foundation. He is also part of the documentary filmmaking collective Karma Motion.