MY THOUGHTS “Humanity can be divided into a minority of people who can do a lot with a little and a majority who can do little with a lot”. Alain de Botton. This book pays homage to Africa. It is a tribute to the forgotten, to the minority. Every experience changes a person. And this project has changed me. I have begun to understand the true importance of football, which would have been impossible if I had not lived through all the stories in order to capture the pictures. Through football I think I understand a little more about life, or at least a certain way of living. That is what I hope the book will do for you. The people with whom I worked were all essential to this project. Once they understood the message I was trying to portray, once I had gained their trust, they gave me more than I could ever have dreamed possible. They let me into their villages and homes. They proudly showed me their shoes, their balls, their jerseys. They took me down paths and alleys to discover charming details about the way of life and football in Africa. The World Cup happening on their continent is a huge moment for them. All the people who live and will remain in the shadow of this huge event deserve to have a light shone on them, not just for their passion for the game, but more so for the fundamental energy and enthusiasm that shines through the way they live. I want to share that passion with the world. I would love people to see and feel what happens in these tiny villages, most of which are many miles off a main road and for whom farming and football are the two essentials. Africa is a world like no other. Unstructured, disorganised, carefree, monotonous. The people have simple needs and huge hearts. They accept their lot in life with a supreme calmness. Yet underneath this there lies a passion for the festival, a reason to rejoice. And these moments are centred around music and football. Often the two go hand in hand. Football is the one activity that costs nothing. Balls are made by hand. A piece of relatively flat land is always nearby; wood provides the goalposts. Africa is a land where the superfluous and superficial seem stripped away, a place where the fundamentals shine through. What makes it so special is that this vast continent accepts its fate with elegance and grace, head held high. Here, I was constantly amazed at the strength of humankind. Here, nothing is a problem, despite money always being one. Yes, Africans may be poor, but poverty does not bring misery. A state of mind alone can bring happiness. As my good friend Ganiyu said: “Happy yourself wherever you are. No matter the conditions, make yourself happy. Play the game”. Then in a taxi going to meet Didier Drogba’s father, the driver said, “When things are a bit tough, we concentrate on the ball and forget”. Africa lives by those examples. And it is around this backdrop that I would like to bring to life funny, poignant and poetic stories that reflect the imagination and energy of the African soil. I have always been interested in the character of the small, seemingly unimportant things. To me, there is hidden beauty in the ordinary and great beauty in the overlooked. — Jessica Hilltout 9
Rubber ball. Chipanga, Mozambique.
João Gabriel’s ball. Chipanga, Mozambique.
Yarn ball. Gondola, Mozambique.
Anokye Stars FC. Kumasi, Ghana.
Plastic bag and tree bark ball. Chicome, Mozambique.
Domingoâ€™s ball. Chicome, Mozambique.
Cattle herderâ€™s ball. Bourganza, Burkina Faso.
Samboâ€™s sock. Bombofa, Burkina Faso.