“I wanted to photograph the Dinka of Yirol for simple reasons. They are tall — many are 7 feet tall and more. They are thin and muscular. And, they exude a certain air of nobility. They are, in my mind, perfect humans.
The Dinka from this region of South Sudan have a reputation for super-human ferocity in battle. When I first encountered these cowherds I was struck most by their apparent lack of emotion. It felt as if they had more in common with the cows they herd than they did with the other tribes in the region who threaten them on a regular basis. They move slowly, speaking softly to each other, resting for long periods. No energy is wasted. They walk hundreds of miles with little food or water.
As I photographed them, I was aware that any one of them were capable of killing me with their bare hands. I didn’t feel threatened.
Never have I encountered a group so homogenous and so passive in their reaction to me. They displayed a trust mixed with confidence and mild curiosity. We didn’t share a single word. I motioned to the backdrop, and as they stood for the portraits, I felt them interrogate me from behind their blank stares.
The Dinka of Yirol keep to themselves, wear short floral dresses and decorate themselves with rubber gaskets, electric cables and cheap Chinese jewelry. They don’t carry guns, but big sticks.
They are vain and superior, but their dignity and self-sufficiency imparts elegance.” – Tim Freccia See more
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