Photographer Olivier Martel has captured eternal African women, their grace, pride, courage and commitment. Here is a selection from his book Femmes Éternelles, with an adaptation of texts by Éric Fottorino, former editorin-chief of Le Monde and founder of Le 1.
Gorée, Senegal. 2001
We should celebrate the gracefulness of these women, distant descendants of the signares of Gorée, fascinating women of colour borne of the ancient union between the young Serers from Senegal’s small coast and the Portuguese settlers.
Agni-Morofoué, Ivory Coast. 1998
She arrived after hours on the road. As fresh as a hibiscus flower. Her face is that of an ancient soul who negotiates with the spirits to tread earthly paths more easily. Her animism and optimism, a pagan faith in forces that surpass us.
Tuba mosque, Senegal. 2002
This woman finds seclusion in God, inundated by celestial light. Every year, millions of pilgrims come here to pray. However, this woman is alone with her thoughts, meditations, with God. The calm after the storm.
Vridi beach, Ivory Coast. 1979
Near Abidjan, between the lagoon and Atlantic Ocean, these women, often accompanied by their husbands and children, are members of the Church of Celestial Christianity, whose vocation is leading stray sheep back to the right path.
Bouaké, Ivory Coast. 1979
A young woman takes off as if her arms were wings. Does she close her eyes to appreciate the journey’s magic better? The desire to leave. The sense of staying, of dreaming with arms wide open…
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