“Grande Hotel” in Russian Reporter

A year ago I went to Beira in Mozambique, to work on a story about Grande Hotel – one of the biggest squats in the World with the population of more than 6 thousand people.
Today this story was published in Russian Reporter Online.
Grande Hotel – the biggest African squat


See the full story in English on my web-site.

“Crying Meri” in “The Age” Newspaper

Photos from “Crying Meri” with the report “Where women fear to tread” by Jo Chandler in today’s issue of Australian “The Age” newspaper.

Jimmy Cowboy and other apostles

While working on Tanna island on the story about John Frum Cargo Cult I found some interesting details about this unique religious movement.

For those who don’t know – John Frum is a mythological person, depicted as a black American soldier (in some legends he was a white man). He appeared in the end of 1930th on Tanna and told the islanders to go back to their old traditions and start to live in “custom”. In exchange for this all locals would receive “cargo” – material wealth from the Western World. Locals started to believe that the cargo was destined to them by their ancestors, but crafty Western people unfairly took possession of it. Before leaving Tanna, Frum promised to local chiefs that he would come back and bring cargo to the islanders. Chiefs know the exact day – 15th of February – but not the year.

Every Friday night in Sulfur Bay and Lamakara villages, followers of cargo cult gather in main squares to sing songs and play guitars. Their songs about desired “cargo”, John Frum and… his apostles. Few decades have passed after his first appearance on Tanna and John “received” new friends, some kind of saints, who help locals to communicate with their Messiah.

Followers of the John Frum cargo cult sing songs and play guitars during the Friday Night ceremony, dedicated to John Frum.

Actually, they are not truly saints. They are much better. They are cowboys! As John was from America (that’s probably how he got his surname “Frum”), his friends also had to have an American spirit.

Western films heroes Jimmy Cowboy, Jerry Cowboy, Johnson, Cael, Billy, Steven and other cowboys in prayers connect islanders with John Frum. Calling their spirits, people from Tanna send messages to John, asking him to come back soon, bring “cargo” and take all his followers to the heaven.
I once attended the Friday night-prayer” and recored a song about Jimmy Cowboy, called “Iau Jimmy-Jimmy Kauboy”.

Here it is:

Later I asked one of the local women to translate me this song from Narak (language of Eastern Tanna) into English.
See below the original text with the English translation.

Iau Jimmy-Jimmy Kauboy
I’m Jimmy-Jimmy Cowboy

Nouakir kotameig, nouakir kotameig
Soon we all rest, soon we all rest

John iewayauba
John will come down

Mit e taha kotaliwak
And take all of us

Magatun ben Wol ue u
to the New World,

Wol ue u, Ia nikeg flaua.
New World inside the flower.

Isn’t it beautiful? By the way, the translation is not very clear, but from the words of villagers I understood that the New World with “cargo” won’t be actually inside the flower, it will be at the place full of flowers. To get there, the people of Tana have only to await the Second Coming of John. This year, unfortunately, he didn’t appear. Maybe in 2013?

Zion Church Exorcists in VIVA Magazine (Poland)

Recent publication of my story about Zion Church Exorcists from Mozambique “Uwierz w ducha” in Polish “VIVA Magazine” №5 (2012).

I had been working on  this project from September of 2010 till May of 2011, documenting life of Zion Church’s members in Maputo and Tete province. Find more images from this story on my web-page: Zion Church of Mozambique.

Crying Meri: violence against women in Papua New Guinea

“Crying Meri”  story is now on my web-site.

Examination room at the Antenatal Clinic of Port Moresby. Doctors say that every week they receive at least 3 women, who were victims of sexual assault. However, the majority of Papua New Guinean women are afraid to report sexual violence, not wanting to have their case became known to relatives and neighbors.

FotoEvidence Book Award 2012

Awesome news! I’m one of the finalists of the FotoEvidence Book Award 2012. My story “Crying Meri: violence-against-women in Papua New Guinea” will be exhibited in the fall of 2012 in New York at the VII Photo Agency Gallery.

Helena Michael (40), mother of seven children. On December 27th (2011) she was attacked by a “cannibal” near the Boroko police station, in the central part of Port Moresby. The attacker bit off Helena’s lower lip and wanted to sink his teeth into her throat. The woman managed to escape by kicking her assailant in his testicles and biting three of his fingers forcing him to release her. Police arrested the man and found out that it was his third attempt to eat human flesh. Having spent three days in the hospital, Helena went to the police station to initiate criminal proceedings against the cannibal, but discovered that he had been released due to the lack of complaints. Helena is still waiting for the hospital’s approval to start surgery for skin graft on her missing lip.

Red cross in Cargo Cult

A boy drinks coconut water near the Red Cross symbol in Ipeukel (Sulfur Bay) village. Red Cross is the most sacral symbol of the John Frum cargo cult. The sign was adopted from the red cross emblem of the American military medical corps, when  medicaments were freely distributed to the natives during the World War II.

Very soon the Cargo Cult photo-story will be on my web-site.

Deep faith of a scuba diver

About a year ago I went to Malawi, to complete my Rescue Diver course in one of the local PADI centers. There, in Chembe village, I met Isa Black, who was one of the staff members of the “Fogman Divers” center. Isa is 56-years-old skipper and diver, who started his career many years ago. He is a muslim, who tries to pray 5 times a day, even in places which are not intended for it. When Isa told me, that he prays even underwater, I grabbed my GoPro camera and asked his permission to join his next diving-worship.

Isa Black (56), in front of a local mosque, Chembe village. (c) Vlad Sokhin

I photographed  the sub-aquatic prayer and than spent couple of days with my story character, documenting his everyday’s life. Later I wrote a short article about Isa Black’s experience.

One week ago my story “Deep faith of a scuba diver” was published in Russian “Independent Newspaper”.