Finding and Connecting the World’s Displaced Communities with Matilde Gattoni

To see more of her dispatches from around the world, follow @matildegattoni on Instagram.

Matilde Gattoni (@matildegattoni) has her #EyesOn the world’s displaced communities. Working across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, the Italian photographer’s stories are driven by realizations she makes on the ground. “I was very surprised to learn that there are 13 countries along the coast of West Africa that are seriously being affected by the consequences of climate change,” she says. “One day we were in a very small village in Ghana, and there was a very severe high tide. And in just one night, that village lost 5 meters [16 feet] of land.”

Matilde intentionally covers a broad range of countries and scenarios to highlight the interconnectedness of environmental issues. “Climate change in [another] part of the world is caused by the fact that the icebergs are melting north of Europe,” she explains. Some observers have commented that she seems especially focused on women, but Matilde sees it differently: “It’s often women that fight for their lives, the survival of their families. ‘What if this was me? What if this was my life?’ This is what I really hope that readers see in my pictures.”
Will Sweden deport gay Liberian refugee to his homophobic homeland?
"In prison I’ll be beaten and raped every day until I am released and leave the country again," said Andrew Nagbe.

He traveled to Sweden to play soccer, but stayed for love. Now, openly gay footballer Andrew Nagbe is asking for asylum after being arrested by immigration officials right in the midst of Stockholm’s Pride parade. The 22-year-old, who was celebrating Pride with his boyfriend at the time of his arrest, is a refugee from Liberia, where being gay is against the law and punishable by imprisonment. It’s a fate Nagbe reportedly fears is certain, if Sweden goes through with its threat to deport him.

“In prison I’ll be beaten and raped every day until I am released and leave the country again. Everyone I know in Liberia knows I am gay now, so they won’t hold back. I want to play football and live as an openly gay man in Sweden,” Nagbe told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, according to NewNowNext.

But even though he’s been doing just that, playing for third and fourth-tier teams, and dating another man, NewNowNext notes that officials “maintain that Nagbe’s claims to be both gay and that he would have his safety compromised if he returns home are not verifiable,” according to the Swedish paper. And reports say the only Nagbe will be able to appeal the ruling is by presenting new evidence to show he is in fact gay and faces certain imprisonment upon his return to Liberia.

The Scotsman reported that at the time of his arrest, Nagbe was playing for Södertälje FK in the fourth tier, a town to the south of Stockholm where many immigrants have settled. Unless the club can find a way to win his release, Nagbe is set to be deported August 23.


Heritage1960 | The Africa Issue (The 2012 Annual Edit)

The thing about Africa is that Africa will always have issues. 

We’re not talking about AIDS, war, or poverty though.  We’re talking about creative entrepreneurs, movers-and-shakers, and economic opportunities. And this results in issues….

…entire issues of magazines solely dedicated to highlighting Africa’s beauty, prowess, and economic viability, otherwise known as “The Africa Issue” or some derivation thereof. 

In 2012, we witnessed “Africa Rising” (again), we were introduced to an “Undiscovered Africa” (an Africa that many already knew of), and the notion of “Rebranding Africa” (after one-sidedly branding Africa) was on the forefront of many agendas.

Across all of these issues, no matter how you spin it, the one thing that remains consistant is that Africa is undoubtedly a global force to reckon with - from food to fashion, beauty to business, and everything in between.

Continue reading here.

Under The Influence | Interview With Rebecca Ayoko (The Africa Issue)

“You can compare my childhood to a mix between ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Color Purple’ ” says Rebecca Ayoko. Born in Togo in the seventies, she grew up in extreme poverty and ferocious violence – an upbringing leaving seemingly virtually room for hope. Little did she know that she was to become one of France’s first black supermodels, and Yves Saint Laurent’s muse. Dior, Balmain, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta: no runway was without her. Shot by Helmut Newton, beloved by French Vogue, “I got my fairytale and so much more.” Today, she has marked history, but hasn’t forgotten her childhood. Her upcoming autobiography (Jean-Claude Gawsewitch editions) will tell her bittersweet, rollercoaster tale. 


Tranzit | Inside “The Africa Issue”

Tranzit Magazine dubs itself as a “Global Guide To Living”, focusing on exploring different cultures from around the world.  For Spring/Summer 2012, Tranzit focused on Africa, starting with cover girl Alek Wek. The Sudanese Model and Philanthropist discusses her journey from being a refugee to a UN Ambassador and everything in between.

Tranzit also takes the reader to the beautiful and affordable island of Seychelles, located off the coast of Madagascar, offering up suggestions of where to eat, sleep and things to do while there.  

Tranzit closes this issue with a brief discussion of the natural resources that are catapulting Africa into an economic and global powerhouse.  Yes, Africa is rising.


Diplomat | Inside The “Invest Africa” Issue (September 2012)

Diplomat Magazine is a foreign affairs magazine published to provide insight and provoke discussion within the diplomatic community and those working in foreign affairs.  Every month, Diplomat provides high quality analysis, political commentary on world affairs, and interviews with Ambassadors.

For the September issue, Diplomat focused on the investment opportunities in Africa, with contributions from the Cameroon High Commissioner and the Republic of Djibouti’s Minister of Economy, Finance Industry and Planning.

Investors and multinationals now believe Africa is the next ‘big destination’ for global investment. As more and more African nations integrate themselves effectively into today’s global economy, it will become ever more apparent that it is the commercial ties that bind. Indeed, Lord Stern noted: ‘The futures of the rich world and Africa are ever more closely intertwined.’

Inside “Invest Africa”, you’ll find:

  • Scramble For Africa | Cameroon’s High Commissioner, Nkwelle Ekaney, outlines the latest developments that are making the erstwhile ‘Dark Continent’ an increasingly attractive prospect for global investors, as discussed at a recent African Investment Roundtable
  • Diplomatic Development | The Republic of Djibouti’s Minister of Economy, Finance, Industry and Planning, Mr Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, speaks to DIPLOMAT about his country’s role in regional and international affairs and its work as an international centre for the fight against piracy
  • Opportunity Knocks | JC Strategy’s Alastair Masser says Africa’s growing oil profile promises to deliver a sizeble dividend, both for the continent and for British businesses willing to embrace the continent’s commercial potential
  • Looking For The Real Africa | Former UK Ambassador, Charles Crawford, recalls apartheid, township diplomacy and Zulu drums during his time in South Africa in the 1980 and 90s 
  • Short On Glamour Long On Success | Paul Austin, Operations Director of business intelligence consultancy Pelican Worldwide Limited, advises on the importance of due diligence to any successful mining venture

Read all articles from the “Invest Africa” issue online here.


Exberliner | Inside the “Africa In Berlin” Issue

[Row 2: Left to Right]

Beat Etage is a West African drumming school run by German born Nathan Berg.  After studying Malinke drumming with renowned teachers such as Famoudou Konate and honing his skills in Guinea, Nathan founded his own school in Germany.

Relais de Savanne is a one-woman restaurant, owned by Assibi Wartenberg, serving up home-style Togolese dishes.  When Assibi is not working in her restaurant, she’s running her non-profit, Deutsch-Togoischer Freundeskreis e.V., also housed in the same space. 

[Row 3: Left to Right]

Kau Kau is part cocktail lounge, part Senegalese underground restaurant   Owned by former football veteran Gregoire Decosta, stop by Kau Kau for some hip hop, reggae, or live music, and if you’re “in-the-know”, order a traditional Senegalese dish. Just don’t bother asking for a menu, because there is none.

Africans In Berlin profiles 10 Berliners who are either “black with a German ID or white with an African passport”. These Afropolitans explore both the pride and the prejudice that comes with the status.

[Row 4: Left to Right]

Colonial Berlin in 10 Steps takes readers through a walking tour and history lesson of Africa’s colonial past.

Hot African Nights gives you the dish on three local hot spots where you can dance the night away.

Jungle Fever? Or Just Lonely? is actually, and unfortunately, both the name and tone of this article about the singles scene in Berlin. Tsk Tsk Exberliner. You had us until here. 


Time | Inside The “Africa Rising” Issue 

Time Magazine first took note of Africa Rising with their March 30, 1998 issue.  Time declared, “After decades of famine and war, life is finally looking up for many Africans.”  Almost 15 years later, Time still feels that Africa is on the come up.

Time released their second Africa Rising issue on December 03, 2012, citing that Africa is “the world’s next economic powerhouse. But huge challenges lie ahead.” 

If you have a subscription to Time Magazine:

  • You can read articles from the 2012 Africa Rising issue here.
  • You can read articles from the 1998 Africa Rising issue here.

If you don’t have a subscription to Time Magazine, like myself, you can read witty and thought-provoking commentary on this issue:

  • via Africa Is A Country here | “Time Magazine and the Africa is Rising Meme”
  • via How We Made It In Africa here | “Africa Rising: Time Magazine Agrees With The Economist”

Alila Magazine | What Black Means To You…

Olaf Hajek (Artist)

Black is not only a color.  It’s an impression where everybody has its own thoughts and interpretation. It could be a great metaphor for a special culture, for power, the dark and the beautiful.  All of these contradictions included in this term are an amazing source of inspiration.

Gloria Wavamunno (Designer)

Black is solid, deep, strong. Even when mixed with other colors, black dominates, continues to flow and be seen. There is some grief in the tone of black. As Tatsuro has said, “It represents the madness hidden in the shadows.  It is the total color of complete and utter grief.”

Nickque (Stylist)

I have always believed that association by race is one of societies downfalls because from this problems stem.  I’m not the stereotypical black male, but this shouldn’t result from me being looked down by people of the same complexion nor should I be accepted more by another race for the same reason. There is history prominent to my race, such as race relations and slavery, but it’s not exclusive to us alone, what we can learn from what has happened is important, but it is more important to strive for continued progress outside of racial constriction. 

I am very proud and grateful for the Martin Luther King’s and Bob Marley’s, but I am just as grateful for the Ghandi’s and Yamamoto’s of this world. History is inclusive.

Miss Coco (DJ)

It’s a color like any other except, in very simplistic terms, it’s gotten a bad rap for ages in multiple contexts.  I’m a big fan of black and everything is represents. 

Continue reading the full interviews here.

Watch on

Plate | Pierre Thiam (The “Undiscovered Africa” Issue)

The “Undiscovered Africa” issue Menu Maestro Pierre Thiam of Pierre Thiam Catering in New York City discusses his native foods of Senegal and more.


Kaleidescope | Inside the “A Is For Africa” Issue

[Row 3: Left to Right]

Hassan Khan and Wael Shawkyin conversation with Shahira Issa, explore the historical narrative behind their artwork and films, as well as their reasoning for focusing on events mentioned only briefly in historical references.

Benjamin Lebrave writes about the diversity of African music, highlighting DJ Djeff (a pioneer of Kuduro in Angola), FOKN Bois (who are paving the way for pidgin rap in Ghana), Just A Band (a Kenyan house/funk/disco band), and Aline Frazao (Luanda born musician whose style is a blend of folk, jazz, and soul).

Writer and curator Nana Oforiatta-Ayim discusses her Cultural Encyclopedia project, which will map, in fifty-four volumes, the trajectories of historical and contemporary cultural production on the African continent”.

[Row 4: Left to Right]

Tracy Murinik writes about the works and influences of South African artist Nicholos Hlobo who explores themes of sexual and cultural identity.  Much of Hlobo’s artwork is informed by his environment and reality “and that reality is of a gay, Xhosa, South African man living openly in an era of (relative) political and sexual liberation, and the various worlds, at home and abroad, that he consciously enters into and draws from”.

Hans Ulrich Obrist interviews artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye who discusses art as a form of narrative, how she groups her artworks, the “man with the white top” and the “stripey one” as recurring subjects in her work, and her Ghanian roots. 

In an interview with Elvira Dyangani Ose (Curator of International Art at Tate Modern), Carson Chan writes about African art as a source of cultural identity and a conveyor of political messaging, the role of the diaspora within the African art scene, recontextualizing African art and what’s next for the Tate.