It all started with Nelson.
I was teaching in a primary school in a small town in the Volta Region of Ghana. One afternoon we had an impromptu photo shoot where the kids would draw their own backdrops with chalk on the blackboard and I would make their portrait in front of it. They got such a kick out of seeing their picture on the little screen on the back of my camera. They were some of the first photographs I ever made.
This is Nelson’s portrait.
A few weeks later one of the boys knocked on my door while I was eating breakfast at dawn.
Nelson had died he said.
He was sick at home for a few days but got much worse the day before. He died soon after he reached the hospital that night.
For the next few days Nelson’s friends and neighbors would come to look at the picture of Nelson on the little screen on the back of my camera.
There was a local photographer at the funeral taking pictures of relatives beside Nelson’s body, which was upright in a chair.
Nelson’s father gestured for me to take a picture of the body.
So I did.
At the end of the funeral the boys wore their school football shirts and carried the coffin across the pitch towards the graveyard.