epa Photo Essays 2010

Inauguration Ceremony of Maasai Youth Leader - Photo Essay

Inauguration Ceremony of Maasai Youth Leader

Some 1,000 morans from Il Kibulu age group of the Kaputei Maasai community attended the ceremony to inaugurate their chief councillor called 'Olaiguenani lenkashe', which literally means 'the leader of the calves'. Age groups are the central units of Maasai society and every age group has its own leader who is appointed through elaborate rituals and given various decision making authorities to lead his group. The ceremony, which takes place every 10 years or so, was attended by thousands of members of Maasai communities and prominent guests including Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

 

 

Traditional Pigsticking in Arini, Romania - Photo Essay

Traditional Pigsticking in Arini, Romania

The Csango people are a Hungarian ethnic group of Roman Catholic faith. They are living mostly in the Romanian region of Moldavia where they moved from Transylvania between the 12th and 17th century. Their traditional language, Csango, is an old Hungarian dialect which is still in use among the ethnical minority, though a large part of the Csango people also speaks Romanian. The Csango population is estimated at about 60,000 people in Romania.

 

 

 

The Fur Trade - Fur Farming in Norway - Photo Essay

The Fur Trade - Fur Farming in Norway

Animal protection organizations recently revealed the very bad living conditions of wild animals (foxes and minks) kept in cages in several fur farms in Norway. These scenes of seriously injured animals in very small cages shocked the whole country and politicians are now considering to ban the fur industry. There are about 350 of these farms in Norway giving employment to some 2,300 people. Per Blilie fears that the closing down fur farming in Norway would move production to Eastern Europe or China where animal conditions are hardly better.

 

 

The Gift of a Smile - Cleft Lip Surgery in Zimbabwe - Photo Essay

The Gift of a Smile - Cleft Lip Surgery in Zimbabwe

Based in USA, the non-profit medical foundation Operation of Hope performs facial surgeries on poverty stricken children around the world. Since 2006, at the Central Children's Hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, Operation of Hope doctors have conducted surgical operations on children born with cleft palates and lips. The foundation aims to restore self-esteem and the abilities to eat and articulate words by curing facial deformities. Cleft lip is one of the most common physical birth defects across the world. Many families travel long distances for a three-hour operation done for free by Operation of Hope.

 

 

Swaziland: The Sorrow of AIDS - Photo Essay

Swaziland: The Sorrow of AIDS

Zanele Mamba and her children share a homestead with her mother and four granddaughters. In 2009, she was living with her husband Mfanzile in a one-room hut. Both were HIV-positive but relatively healthy thanks to government-supplied antiretroviral drugs. Their daughter was born HIV-negative thanks to prevention of mother-to-child transmission services provided by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. One year later things have changed drastically: Mfanzile’s treatment failed, he lost his job and died in June 2010. Soon after the funeral, his family forced Zanele and Phiwa from their home and land.

 

 

Characters of Egypt Festival - Photo Essay

Characters of Egypt Festival

The third edition aimed at gathering representatives from different Egyptian tribes and promoting eco-tourism and cultural diversity and dialogue in Egypt. The festival is comprised of conferences explaining local tribal laws and customs as well as traditional activities. The tribe members are also able to meet counterparts from other regions. According to many of them they are able to exchange information on customs but also on more practical things like water exploration techniques and a better coordination on how to adapt and be part of the Egyptian tourism industry through Eco-tourism.

 

 

Inmate Arm Wrestling Contest at Rahova Prison, Romania - Photo Essay

Inmate Arm Wrestling Contest at Rahova Prison, Romania

Fifty-eight prisoners took part in the third edition of the contest, organized by a woman, prison officer and educator Gherghina Stoian. The event was supervised by the Romanian Arm Wrestling Association who sent two referees to ensure compliance with all rules of sport. Fighting was resolved within one minute, one side or the other. Detainees from all the prison cells sporting a TV set were able to watch the competition from their 'rooms'. The contest held in the prison as part of the list of educative activities which seeks to change the inmates attitude towards the world around them.

 

 

Flash Blood - Drug Addicts in Tanzania - Photo Essay

Flash Blood - Drug Addicts in Tanzania

In this World Heritage site, hundreds of addicts are buying the cheap drug which is flown into the country from Pakistan and India. In small packets of foil wrapping, 'Brown Sugar' as heroin is locally called, is both smoked and injected. For less than one US dollar, addicts can find a regular and easy supply of heroin. 'Flash blood' is the phrase that describes the sharing of needles used by heroin addicts as they huddle together in the hand-made wooden fishing boats or back alleys of the impoverished fishing harbour of Malindi, Stone Town, Zanzibar.

 

 

Cirebon Batik Maker - Photo Essay

Cirebon Batik Maker

The batik is an Indonesian item of clothing traditionally made by hand. A company in Cirebon, Indonesia, keeps the Batik alive by producing them in the traditional fashion. Cirebon used to be an independent Sultanate until the beginning of Dutch colonial rule in the region. This triggered the development of trade with subsequently attracted Chinese entrepreneurs who left their mark on the way certain Batiks are designed. Batik makers have to master the skill of wax-resist dyeing technique in order to give a color only to the areas needed and therefore create a pattern.

 

 

Ahead of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice - Photo Essay

Ahead of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice

Every year, on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hidja, Muslims around the world celebrate one of the biggest Muslim religious festivals of Eid al-Adha by the sacrificial killing of goats, cows or camels. As in other Muslim countries, two or three weeks before the Eid, people in Egypt head to their local cattle markets and purchase the animal. The weekly Kerdasa market of sees its affluence growing during the Eid time. In 2010, the prices for live animals reached some 30 EGP (about 4 Euros) per kilo - the animals weigh between 100 kg to 300 kg depending on their type and age.

 

 

Poverty Housing in South Africa - Photo Essay

Poverty Housing in South Africa

South Africa was brought to the world's attention during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. However, for thousands little has changed as the struggle for housing and basic services in the poor shanty towns surrounding Johannesburg continues. Recently bitter fighting between shanty town residents and police officers left one demonstrator dead from bullet wounds, scores arrested and police cars burned to the ground. The lack of government-built housing and basic services for poor ANC supporters has forced many thousands to hold violent demonstrations against the government they voted into power.

 

 

Election in Myanmar: A Transition to Democracy? - Photo Essay

Election in Myanmar: A Transition to Democracy?

According to the country's Election Commission, more than 29 million eligible voters will cast their ballots on 07 November 2010 in Burma, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Although the junta has barred international observers, it will allow Yangon-based diplomats and journalists to observe 18 locations nationwide. It will be the first election in 20 years. The last general election in 1990 was won by the NLD led by Aung San Suu Kyi, but the junta blocked the NLD from power and has kept the Nobel Peace Prize laureate under house arrest for 15 of the past 20 years.

 

 

Food Education in Japan - Photo Essay

Food Education in Japan

'La Semaine du Gout' was originally started in France in 1990 by food experts concerned with the declining interest in traditional cuisine among young children. Japan is now facing similar problems among the younger generation. Many social and health problems have been attributed to an unbalanced diet of chemically processed foods and the over-consumption of sodium and sugar. Concerned with this situation and the decline in Japan's traditional food culture, Japanese food expert Yukio Hattori and master chef Kiyomi Mikuni invited Anne-Sophie Pic of France to introduce Japan’s own Week of Taste.

 

 

Kazakh Eagle Festival in Western Mongolia - Photo Essay

Kazakh Eagle Festival in Western Mongolia

The Kazakh people in Western Mongolia are the only sizeable ethnic minority in a country where Khalkh Mongols predominate. The Kazakhs of Mongolia are proud of their strong traditions such as horsemanship and eagle hunting with a strong take-up by the younger generations assuring they will continue. The year 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Bayan Oelgiy region in western Mongolia which was made originally in recognition of the different customs and Muslim religion of the area in contrast to the Lama Buddhism of the rest of the country.

 

 

Wudang Mountain - Photo Essay

Wudang Mountain

Wudang Mountain is famous for its ancient Taoist architectural complex of palaces and temples and has been listed as a UNESCO World heritage site in 1994. It has been a center of Taoist activities for over 500 years since it was built as an organized complex during the Ming dynasty. Thousands of tourists and Taoist pilgrims throng the mountain every year while many foreign Wushu practitioners came to stay and learn from the masters themselves. Wudang Wushu is an important school of Chinese martial arts that effectively combined Taoist theory with kungfu moves.

 

 

The Elelloang Basali Weavers in Lesotho - Photo Essay

The Elelloang Basali Weavers in Lesotho

The Elelloang Basali Weavers are a partnership of Basotho women who weave and sell mohair rugs, tapestries, bags, and other products. All the weavers share equally in the management and profits of the studio. Their studio is made of recycled cans. The products are made from local mohair wool, which the weavers buy once a year from local farmers and then spin and dye by hand. The designs are inspired by Basotho Litema patterns, which were traditionally drawn on the walls of Lesotho homes. A square-meter-sized tapestry takes approximately one month to complete.

 

 

Renovation of the Citadel of Arbil, Iraq - Photo Essay

Renovation of the Citadel of Arbil, Iraq

The crumbling castle-city that has towered above Arbil for some 7,000 years has been named a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site, opening the way for study and restoration. The Citadel was the original city of Arbil, home to successive cultures including the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Arabs and Ottomans, among others. It housed at least 5,000 people by 1980. In 2007, the remaining squatters and long-time residents were evicted to make way for restoration. One family still remains. The plan envisions scientific studies in the oldest and most-significant existing areas as well as a working tourist city.

 

 

Car Spinning Subculture in Cape Town - Photo Essay

Car Spinning Subculture in Cape Town

Spinning is one of the newest and grittiest forms of motor sport on the African continent. The art of rotating wheels and vehicles at high speed making a car spin and melt or burn its tyres in a complex dance like movement across a designated spinning patch whilst the driver performs unique and daring stunts even emerging from the vehicle whilst it is in rapid motion. Almost every weekend spinning drivers from across Cape Town gather in vacant parking lots and industrial areas and spin their vehicles to the cheers of captivated crowds.

 

 

The Laganta Giraffe Center in Kenya - Photo Essay

The Laganta Giraffe Center in Kenya

The Giraffe Centre, formally named The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya, was founded in 1979 in a bid to protect Rothschild giraffes, one of the most endangered subspecies. It expands over 100 acres of dry upland indigenous forest and offers visitors up close and personal interactions with the world's tallest animal. Adjacent to the centre, there is Giraffe Manor, a small hotel which cooperates a breeding programme with the Giraffe Centre. The Centre aims to raise awareness on environmental issues and educate general public on the need to conserve Kenya's biodiversity.

 

 

The Warlocks Motorcycle Club - Photo Essay

The Warlocks Motorcycle Club

You will hear them before you see them. As they roar by you see flashes of chrome and leather, you are left with the image of their flaming War Bird patch as they disappear over the horizon. They are Warlocks, a one per cent Motorcycle Club with active chapters in the United States, England and Germany. The One Percenter designation has its origin in the American Motorcycle Associations assertion from the 1960s that 99 per cent of motorcyclists are law abiding citizens. Riding their motorcycles over 10,000 miles a year Warlocks say that they would bleed for their brothers, many of them have.

 

 

The Art of Burlesque, New Orleans Burlesque Festival - Photo Essay

The Art of Burlesque

The second annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival was recently held in New Orleans, Louisiana, where from the 1940s through the 1960s the Bourbon Street was home to the largest concentration of burlesque clubs in the USA. In dimly lit, smoke-filled clubs under multi-colored spotlights, Lilly Christine, the Cat Girl, Blaze Starr, Evangeline the Oyster Girl, and countless other stars of striptease performed for convention goers, tourists and locals. The main event is a competition for the Queen of Burlesque title. Showcases, workshops, panel discussions and parties round out the weekend.

 

 

Rhino Poaching Combat in South Africa - Photo Essay

Rhino Poaching Combat in South Africa

Over the past two years, after three decades of painstaking work to rebuild the country's rhino population from a few hundred in the 1950s to around 21,000 black and white rhinos are severely under threat by a spike in poaching driven by demand in Asia for rhino horn. From a few dozen rhinos poached each year in the early 2000s, the numbers have escalated to 122 in 2009 and over 200 so far in 2010. Kruger National Park, the country's biggest tourist destination, has been worst-hit, but as the park boosts its patrols, poachers are now seeking other, softer targets.

 

 

Delivering Health Care: The Basotho Ponies Program - Photo Essay

Delivering Health Care: The Basotho Ponies Program

At an altitude above 3000 m, Lesotho's Mokhotlong district is one of the most remote regions in Southern Africa. Health clinics in the furthest reaches of the district are often impossible to reach due to up to six months of snow during winter and its steep dirt roads. Approximately 25 per cent of Lesotho’s adult population is living with HIV, and the country suffers from high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and malnutrition. To combat these problems the Horse-riding for Health Program was established as horseback is the most common mode of transport in Lesotho.

 

 

And They Shall Take Up Serpents - Photo Essay

And They Shall Take Up Serpents

Hidden in the hollows of West Virginia, a simple one-room church is trying to maintain an extraordinary religious practice. The Church of the Lord Jesus is one of America's last 'Signs' churches, a folk religion that encourages worshippers to speak in tongues and to handle serpents. Popular throughout Appalachia in the 1920s, the practice is rooted in a Biblical passage from the Book of Mark. Though practitioners believe prayer will prevent them from being harmed, more than eighty Signs members have died from snakebites in the last century, leading most states to ban the practice.

 

 

Prakit Sitpragaan, Monkey Drama Troupe - Photo Essay

Prakit Sitpragaan, Monkey Drama Troupe

Prakit Sitpragaan have been performing in Thailand for over 30 years. The director of the troupe inherited the position from his uncle. In the past, monkey theatre was performed at local fairs or held at temples during religious ceremonies. Although its existence is disappearing from Thai society, the monkey entertainers are now recognized as an asset of historical Thai culture. Using ventriloquism, Prakit Sitpragaan traditionally performs stories adapted from Asian classical novels and folklore.

 

 

 

Fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans - Photo Essay

Fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on 29 August 2005. It was estimated that 80 percent of New Orleans was under water. Thousands of people who failed or were unable to evacuate, mostly poor and elderly, were trapped on bridges, overpasses, rooftops and in the Louisiana Superdome. Katrina killed 1,833 people and has been called the worst natural disaster to hit the USA. Five years later, New Orleans resident Bevil Knapp revisited many of the locations she documented during the height of the tragedy.

 

 

Wild flowers of Namaqualand, South Africa - Photo Essay

Wild Flowers of Namaqualand, South Africa

Namaqualand is a vast and varied region of South Africa with a semi-desert environment that offers a wide selection of remarkable fauna and flora. The Namaqualand spring flowers are justifiably world famous. Countless poems, novels, paintings and prose have been dedicated to this annual shower of colour. The 2010 season has been one of the driest seasons in five years and has produced only a fraction of the usual number of wild flowers usually seen during this period. The Namaqua National Park was established to protect this unique phenomenon.

 

 

Informal recycling in South Africa - Photo Essay

Informal Recyclers in South Africa

Recycling for the average suburban household in South Africa is inconvenient. The infrastructure for collecting recyclable material is not in place with only very limited curbside collection. Households generally have to separate their rubbish and take the recyclables to a municipal drop-off centre or a buy-back centre. This leaves a lot of recyclable material such as paper, glass, metal and plastics for informal recyclers to recover from dustbins and landfill sites. Although this enables unemployed men to earn a little money to get by, informal recycling has big drawbacks.

 

 

Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair - Photo Essay

Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair

Thousands of Martha's Vineyard residents and summer visitors are attracted to the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society annual Agricultural Fair held in August in West Tisbury. The four-day fair highlights the raising of livestock, including fowl, cattle sheep, and horses; competitions in log rolling, axe, handsaw and chainsaw use; and showcases artisan crafts such as weaving and yarn production. Fair-goers ride carnival rides into the summer night and treat themselves to cotton candy, candied apples, fried dough and fresh corn-on-the-cob.

 

 

African Traditional Wrestling Tournament - Photo Essay

African Traditional Wrestling Tournament

Several teams of Nubians residing in Kibera slum participated in the one-day event. The tournament was organized by Sports for Youth Development Initiative, a local NGO aiming to use sports to address and tackle the social and economic problems encountered by Nairobi's marginalized youth. Nuba wrestling has been practiced for over 3,000 years and is a central part of Nuba culture. It is similar to Ancient Greek wrestling in that wrestlers score by takedowns. However, Nuba wrestlers can use their entire body, whereas modern Greco-Roman-style wrestling allows the competitors to use only their upper bodies for takedowns.

 

 

Mobile Sauna Rally in Teuva - Photo Essay

Mobile Sauna Rally in Teuva

Over 50 different kinds of mobile saunas gathered on a lakeside in the small town of Teuva in western Finland as Teuva hosts the Rally for Mobile Saunas for the 5th time on 07 and 08 August 2010. All the saunas were open for visitors to bath from 07 August noon to midnight and again on 08 August morning. From previous years’ experience, some 6,000 visitors were expected to visit the gathering thus doubling the population of Teuva for one weekend.

 

 

 

 

Vietnam National Tuong Theatre - Photo Essay

Vietnam National Tuong Theatre

It is believed that Tuong theatre was imported from China around the 13th century. Later, it developed from being entertainment for the royal court to being performed for commoners and peasants by traveling troupes. The stories in Tuong tend to be historical and often focus on the rules of social decorum. Legends from either the history if China or Vietnam are re-enacted. Tuong employs the use of stock characters who are recognizable from their make up and costumes, which are typically very elaborate and extravagant.

 

 

Street Children: From Mean Streets to Surfing - Photo Essay

From Mean Streets to Surfing

The issue of street children in Durban, South Africa, was brought to the attention of the public when the children were displaced from areas used by fans during the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. Scores of children have moved back into these areas and many are being helped by the Umthombo Street Children organization. The unique organization, led predominantly by former street children, aims to change the way that society perceives and treats them. One of the treatment avenues is to teach the children to surf. In this way underprivileged children can enjoy a sport otherwise inaccessible to them.

 

 

The Kingdom of Dreams - India’s Bollywood Park - Photo Essay

The Kingdom of Dreams

Kingdom of Dreams is a live entertainment complex built over 6 acres in Gurgaon, a city in the northern Indian state of Haryana. The purpose of this project is to showcase high-quality Bollywood musicals and promote India's culture, crafts, cuisine and performing arts. The developers aim to create a major tourist destination and theme park which they claim could be a one-stop destination to experience India. The INR 200 crore (approximately 43 million US dollars) project is opening in phases and will be fully operational with in the next two months.

 

 

65th Anniversary: Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Photo Essay

Atomic Bombings - 65th Anniversary

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Japan to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the US military dropped atomic bombs 65 years ago. Ban will be the first UN Secretary General to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima. For the first time the USA will send an envoy to the memorial. The US bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 06 August 1945, killing tens of thousands of people in seconds. By the end of the year, 140,000 had died from the effects of the bomb. On 09 August a second atomic bomb was exploded over Nagasaki, killing more than 73,000 people.

 

 

USA: Wildlife and the BP Spill - Photo Essay

Wildlife and the BP Spill

The Deepwater Horizon off shore oil platform exploded on 20 April 2010 killing 11 oil workers. It sank two days later. Oil from the well 42 miles off the coast of Louisiana spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. As the oil moved inland hundreds of additional deaths occurred in the populations of the wildlife that inhabit the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida. Some animals have been rescued and rehabilitated while for others there was nothing the wildlife experts could do. The spill is expected to impact the US coast for years to come.

 

 

Love Does Not Deserve Death - Uganda’s Homosexual Community - Photo Essay

Love Does Not Deserve Death

In 2009, UK-educated Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati introduced a bill which if passed would increase and expand the penalties for already-illegal 'homosexual acts' to life imprisonment, or in some cases, the death penalty. Ugandan lesbian woman 'Biggie' and her bisexual girlfriend found refuge in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Kampala. FARUG, Uganda's lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex human rights group, has been working to push for the full equal rights of the sexual minorities and recognition of the same sex relationship in Uganda since its establishment in 2003.

 

 

Operation Save America US Anti-Abortion Pro-Life Rally - Photo Essay

Operation Save America

Hundreds of members of the strident anti-abortion group Operation Save America (OSA) gathered for their annual rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. Calling abortion a 'holocaust ravaging our nation,' OSA supporters used some unconventional tactics to broadcast their message. They confronted pedestrians with graphic billboards of aborted fetuses, denounced Islam outside a mosque (the organization likens Islam and homosexuality to abortion, believing all three are 'inspired by the same liar who has come to the Earth to rob, kill, and destroy'), and held an open-casket funeral for a human fetus.

 

 

Aryan Redux - Photo Essay

Aryan Redux

One of America's most notorious white-separatist groups is attempting a comeback. The Aryan Nations (AN), a neo-Nazi organization that was sued into bankruptcy a decade ago, has re-emerged this summer—holding rallies, distributing literature, and seeking new members. Pastor Paul Mullet claims the group now has 24 chapters in as many states. The AN claim their racial views are rooted in Biblical principle; they believe that Adam of Genesis was the placing of the white race upon the earth, while Jews are Canaanites descended from Eve's original sin, and thus the enemy of Christianity.

 

 

Kung Fu Nunnery - Photo Essay

Kung Fu Nunnery

Meditation, prayers, daily chores around the temple and then a little Kung Fu forms the daily routine for the nuns from Druk Amitabha Mountain. Traditionally Buddhist nuns have been seen as inferior to monks. Often nuns received little education and were not supported as much as monks by lay people. Kung Fu was introduced about two years ago. Amitabha Drukpa Nunnery is a modern monastery and with martial arts the physical and mental self-confidence of the nuns has grown. With better education and physical programs like Kung Fu the number of young women joining the nunneries has increased.

 

 

Making It in America - Photo Essay

Making It in America

Fernando Llamas was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. when he was three-years-old. He joined the Navy after turning 18 and decided to apply for citizenship two years. Llamas became a US citizen at the biggest all-military naturalization ceremony in U.S. history held in San Diego, California on 02 July 2010. He was one of 300 foreign nationals serving in the U.S. Armed Forces who took an oath of allegiance. Military personnel go through the normal naturalization process, but they are exempt from the USD 595 application fee and do not need to have a green card for five years before applying.

 

 

Shaolin Martial Arts School - Photo Essay

Shaolin Martial Arts School

More than 200 students from five to 20 years old are enrolled in this school where the Shaolin martial arts are taught by monks from the Shaolin Temple. The students live and study on campus and attend lessons according to the national education curriculum from primary to secondary school. The school fees are 6,800 RMB (800 EUR) per year including food and accommodation. The Shaolin Temple is surrounded by many martial arts schools affiliated to it as enthusiasts journey to the prominent monastery that produced film star Jet Li and made famous by hundreds of Kung Fu movies.

 

 

Heartache and Hope - Photo Essay

Heartache and Hope

At the Artificial Limbs and Polio Center in the Gaza Strip, amputees can get prostheses fitted. They are also given physiotherapy at the clinic to train them to use the artificial limbs. Since the Israeli offensive of 2008-2009, the demand for these services has increased dramatically. As a result, the center is struggling to cope. Some funds and material for the artificial limbs are provided by NGOs like the Red Cross and Islamic Relief. Islamic Relief, whose mission is to help amputees live self-reliant lives within safe and caring communities, began working with the center in 2004.

 

 

First Anniversary of Michael Jackson's Death - Photo Essay

First Anniversary of Michael Jackson's Death

As one of the most popular recording artists of all time, his sudden death triggered a world-wide outpouring of grief. Jackson was in the middle of rehearsals for concerts that were in the singer's own words to be his 'final curtain call'. Jackson revolutionized the music video art form with his hits such as 'Thriller' and 'Beat It' and was the first black artist to find stardom on MTV. Following the news of his death fans around the world erected makeshift memorials and tribute performances were organized by amateurs and professionals alike. A commemoration is planned on the first anniversary of his death.

 

 

Prison Soccer in South Africa - Photo Essay

Prison Soccer in South Africa

The Boksburg prison in Johannesburg, South Africa, will be marking the start of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup by staging their own 'World Cup' for the inmates. Soccer is a way of life for the inmates who live for the game and most of the cells have their own team. The prison also invites soccer talent scouts to attend games with the hope of the scouts finding a talented player and offering him a club contract after he finishes his sentence. South Africa has one of the highest rates of prisoners per capita in the world at about 402 per 100,000 people.

 

 

Slovenia and Croatia Border Dispute over Piran Bay - Photo Essay

Slovenia and Croatia Border Dispute over Piran Bay

Ljubljana and Zagreb have been in disaccord since the breakup of Yugoslavia over 13 square kilometres of largely uninhabited land and a wedge of territorial water in and around Piran Bay. In 2009 EU-member Slovenia lifted its embargo on EU membership talks for Croatia after the two countries signed a deal allowing international mediators to resolve the Piran Bay border dispute. Slovenes narrowly approved the deal in a referendum on 06 June 2010. The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said the outcome is ''an important step forward'' for the conflict-ridden Balkan region.

 

 

Tibetan Medicine in China - Photo Essay

Tibetan Medicine in China

Tibetan medicine is a centuries-old traditional medical system that is a synthesis of the Indian, Persian, Greek, indigenous Tibetan and Chinese medical systems combined with a Buddhistic philosophy. It employs a complex approach to diagnosis, incorporating techniques such as pulse and urinalysis, and utilizes behavior and dietary modification, medicines composed of natural materials and physical therapies like acupuncture to treat illnesses. Tibetan medicine, as part of the Tibetan culture, was traditionally practiced by lamas in Buddhist monasteries but is now widely available in many parts of China.

 

 

Slum Soccer in Kenya - Photo Essay

Slum Soccer in Kenya

In 1987, Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), a local NGO, was initiated in the aim of educating struggling youth of Mathare slum and promoting environmental improvement, HIV/AIDS prevention awareness, leadership training and community development through athletic activities, most popularly soccer. Today more than 20,000 youth are involved in MYSA activities, with some 5,000 boys and girls composing 350 teams from 50 slum villages. MYSA's youth programs have produced many Kenyan top soccer players, most notably Dennis Oliech, who currently plays for French football club AJ Auxerre.

 

 

Soccer Grannies in South Africa - Photo Essay

Soccer Grannies in South Africa

The South African Vakhegula Vakhegula team plays soccer twice a week and has to dodge cow dung and long grass under a scorching sun. The oldest member is 85 years old and they say they are looking forward to watching and learning from international players during the FIFA World Cup. Cancer survivor Beka Ntsanwisi set the team up in 2006. Doctors told her that although she was receiving treatment for lung cancer she still needed to keep fit. Courageously she invited other elderly women in the community to join her in playing soccer in a bid to stay healthy and supple.

 

 

Tingatinga Artists in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - Photo Essay

Tingatinga Artists in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The name Tingatinga art is derived from Edward Saidi Tingatinga, a Tanzanian who explored and developed a unique style of painting in the 1960s in which African animals and objects of nature are often used as motifs. Because of the limitations in the choice of materials, he used enamel paint on masonite to paint vibrantly-colored stylized animals and spirits. Today about 200 artists create and sell their works in Morogoro Stores. Tingatinga art is often disregarded by the academic community but examples have been exhibited in the Pompidou Center in Paris as well as being sold in Sotheby's.

 

 

Bicycle Tours through Soweto - Photo Essay

Bicycle Tours through Soweto

Most tourists who visit this suburb of Johannesburg roll in and out in tour buses. But more and more discover the township life on bike. The tour starts at the Soweto Backpackers hostel in Orlando West district where revered former President Nelson Mandela lived with his ex-wife Winnie before his imprisonment for resisting apartheid. It was also here that thousands of youths staged an uprising against the apartheid regime in 1976. The business owner Lebo Malepa is bracing for a surge in demand in June and July, when hundreds of thousands of foreign soccer fans descend on South Africa for the FIFA World Cup.

 

 

Makarapas, Souvenirs for World Cup Fans - Photo Essay

Makarapas, Souvenirs for World Cup Fans

The Makarapa is a hand-cut and hand painted hard hat. The origin of the term 'Makarapa' goes back to the late 70's and early 80's meaning migrant worker. It's associated with the 'helmets' because they were used by migrant workers in the mines around Johannesburg. It belongs to the typical South African football fan's supporters gear, and is increasingly popular with fans of other sports. Sport fans spend hours to sculpture and paint their Makarapa in the colours and emblem of their clubs or country. With the FIFA World Cup 2010, the international profile and availability of the Makarapa has increased greatly.

 

 

Soccer Ball Industry in Sialkot - Photo Essay

Soccer Ball Industry in Sialkot

The soccer ball industry of Pakistan, principally concentrated in the city of Sialkot, has been under scrutiny in recent years for employing child workers. Soccer balls are made entirely by hand in Sialkot. They generally consist of a number of synthetic leather panels stitched together in geometric patterns on the outside with an inflatable bladder inside. Hand-stitching these panels together is a very labor-intensive process. Balls that don't pass the final quality control are taken apart and stitched together again. Sialkot’s factories supply 40 million footballs a year – and up to 60 million in European Championship or World Cup years.

 

 

Feral Cats Living in Senegal - Photo Essay

Feral Cats Living in Senegal

It is estimated there are tens of thousands of feral cats roaming in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Although some cats are loosely adopted as pets most survive on the streets and beaches scavenging whatever they can to live off. This often results in early deaths due to the poor quality of open water sources and waste upon which they sustain themselves. The total population of ownerless or free-roaming cats is comprised of abandoned cats, usually accepting human approximation, and by their descendents already born in the wild which if untouched by humans until the 8th week of age will avoid contact with people.

 

 

Beauty of the World Contest in China - Photo Essay

Beauty of the World Contest in China

Contestants from 55 countries around the world are in China to take part in the 'Beauty of the World' contest. As beauty pageants become increasingly popular in China, many cities in the country are increasingly collaborating with organisers to help promote tourism in their area as the rapid development of China leads to higher consumption in tourism and recreation. Zhangjiajie is a rising tourist city famous for its unique natural scenery and abundant tourism resources located in the northwest of Hunan province with scenery there said to have inspired scenes in the Hollywood movie 'Avatar'.

 

 

Japanese Golden Week Geisha Performance - Photo Essay

Japanese Golden Week Geisha Performance

Geisha, which translated into English means 'entertainer,' have the image internationally as a kind of high class courtesan, where as in fact the typical geisha is a performer of traditional dance and music, who entertains in groups for special events and banquets and at public theaters. During Japan's Golden Week Holidays, lasting from 01 to 05 May, many cultural performances are being held throughout the country.

 

 

Gender Violence in Afghanistan - Photo Essay

Gender Violence in Afghanistan

Several NGOs across the country run rehabilitation centers where victims of self-immolation learn vocational skills such as baking and embroidery to enable them to earn their livelihoods. Forced marriages and a lack of education contribute to a recent spate of suicide attempts among women in Afghanistan. Afghan women are in a subordinate position in society, where conservative Islamic laws and traditions dictate what a woman is allowed to do in a male dominated world. Forced marriages, domestic violence, poverty and lack of access to education are said to be some of the main reasons for self immolation.

 

 

Food Security in Niigata, Japan - Photo Essay

Food Security in Niigata, Japan

Securing safe and sufficient food supplies to feed the world's growing populations while maintaining fertile and irrigable agricultural land are issues for both developing and advanced countries alike. In 2010, ministerial leaders of APEC countries met for the first time ever to discuss these issues at the Meeting on Food Security in Niigata. Japan is able to provide only 40 percent of the calorie intact needs of its population. This feature focuses on recent efforts being made in Niigata to strengthen the economic viability of farming in order to boost Japan's self sufficiency and food security outlook.

 

 

Plight of the Artisanal Fishermen in Senegal - Photo Essay

Plight of the Artisanal Fishermen in Senegal

Twenty years ago the beach of Ngor, Senegal, would have been empty with all the pirogues out to sea engaged in fishing. Often in traditional fishing communities, fish are an important food source, and fishing is a way of life and basis for local cultures. Heavy fishing by international companies has put great pressure on traditional fishing communities. As fish populations decline, stocks move offshore, making them inaccessible to small-scale, artisanal fishermen who do not have equipment to access offshore stocks.

 

 

Mighty Men Conference in South Africa - Photo Essay

Mighty Men

Six years ago, Christian farmer Angus Bachan invited a small group of men to his farm. The meeting, called 'Mighty Men,' was so popular that it grew into an annual event. In 2010, nearly 300,000 men of all races attended the sixth conference. Bachan held two large services each day and throughout the day and night, smaller private services and Bible studies took place in tented areas away from the massive main stage. During several services, men could be seen crying out, perhaps responding to Angus Buchan's message that even the toughest men can find spiritual enlightenment.

 

 

Earth Day 2010 - Photo Essay

Earth Day 2010

Earth Day is celebrated globally on 22 April every year to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the earth's environment. On Earth Day individuals as well as environmental groups take action to raise awareness of and political attention to environmental issues such as pollution, global warming and climate change, and to encourage public endeavour for a clean environment. Earth Day which was founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2010.

 

 

Sudanese Sufi Dervishes Ceremony at Hamid el Nil Tomb - Photo Essay

Sudanese Sufi Dervishes Ceremony at Hamid el Nil Tomb

Every Friday before sunset hundreds of dervishes gather at the holy site to dance and chant God's names in a ritual called 'Dhikr' in which adherents enter into a trance and state of abandon in order to communicate directly with Allah and to cleanse themselves of evil. Children and women are encouraged to participate in the spiritual gathering. The Sufi spiritual ceremony takes place at the Tomb of Sheikh Hamid el Nil, a 19th century spiritual leader from the Qadiriyah order in Omdurman, Sudan.

 

 

 

Rocket War on Greek Island of Chios - Photo Essay

Rocket War on Greek Island of Chios

Instead of the Greek Orthodox tradition of throwing fireworks during the Easter service two rival church congregations in Vrontados fire rockets across the town, with the objective of hitting the bell tower of the church of the other side. The tradition may go back to the 19th century, when the Ottoman occupiers confiscated the cannons over fear they would be used in an uprising. So the locals resorted to fire rockets instead. It may also date back to the Ottoman occupation when people from the island were prohibited to celebrate Easter and decided to have a fake rocket war to keep the Ottomans away.

 

 

Reconstructive Surgery for Seriously Wounded Iraqis - Photo Essay

Reconstructive Surgery for Seriously Wounded Iraqis

For three years Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been offering reconstructive surgery, in Amman, Jordan, to Iraqis who were wounded during the past seven years of conflict. This specialized surgical program has treated more than 1,000 wounded patients, restoring the face of one, the mobility of another and the ability to carry out the simple acts of daily life, lost long ago, for many others. For the last three years, MSF has been running a reconstructive surgery project in Amman in partnership with the Jordan Red Crescent Society in order to complement the work of doctors within Iraq.

 

 

Japanese Radon Hotsprings Therapy - Photo Essay

Japanese Radon Hotsprings Therapy

Okayama University Medical Hospital is the only place in the world studying the healing properties of radioactive radon on animals and humans in its spa treatment program. Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas. Low doses are believed to stimulate the body's healing mechanism and enhance immunity. The cancer mortality rate of local hotsprings residents is less than half the national level. Misasa hotsprings is one of the most radon rich in the world, and local government and businesses are promoting radon hotsprings therapy as a way to revive the local economy

 

 

Maple Syrup Production in Vermont, USA - Photo Essay

Maple Syrup Production in Vermont, USA

In the late winter, early spring, the sap begins to flow in the Sugar Maple trees and Vermonters collect the sap to produce maple syrup. The simple process of 'tapping' the trees, gathering sap from the cans and boiling away 97 1/2 percent of the liquid has been modernized but Bill Adams and his family. Taps and steel cans are placed on the trees, the sap is collected on foot or snowshoe, and then is boiled down over a wood fueled fire. The Adams family has owned the farm since 1865 but because of the downturn in the economy Bill's granddaughter may not be able to continue to manage the farm.

 

 

World Water Day - Photo Essay

World Water Day

World Water Day is marked on 22 March 2010. The official United Nations statement reads: The theme of this year’s World Water Day, Clean Water for a Healthy World, emphasizes that both the quality and the quantity of water resources are at risk. More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war. These deaths are an affront to our common humanity, and undermine the efforts of many countries to achieve their development potential. World Water Day has been held to celebrate freshwater annually since 1993.

 

 

Kosovar Dervishes Celebrate the Nowruz Day - Photo Essay

Kosovar Dervishes Celebrate the Nowruz Day

Kosovar dervishes, adepts of Sufism a mystical form of Islam that preaches tolerance and a search for understanding, perform the same ritual every year to mark the Sultan Nowruz Day, which is the birthday of Imam Ali and the first day of Spring. In Kosovo, there are as many as 12 orders of this Sufi sect who trace their origins back to different saints and teachers but all view Prophet Muhammad’s nephew as their founder. The Kosovo Dervish community continue centuries old mystical practices, such as self-piercing with needles and knives as a way to earn salvation and find the path to God.

 

 

Hikikomori on Pilgrimage - Photo Essay

Hikikomori on Pilgrimage

The term hikikomori refers to young people who refuse to leave their house, isolating themselves in their homes and from society for a period exceeding six months. Most hikikomori start by dropping out of the highly competitive Japanese school system. Many retreat further from society. During the five day walk, from Tokyo's urban core through the suburbs and countryside to the mountain temple town of Nikko, a journey of over 160 kilometers, the hikikomori learn to socialize with their fellow walkers, while creating haiku and learning about Japanese culture.

 

 

Rat Hunting in Assam - Photo Essay

Rat Hunting in Assam

Every year, a large portion of the crops is destroyed by rats. In recent times the number of people affected by an ever-growing rat population has increased. Rat hunters usually belong to 'Adivasi' or tribal communities and have to travel away from their homes every week to make their livelihood. They hunt at night by using indigenous traps made out of bamboo. These traps are put in front of rat holes in the evening and checked throughout the night to collect the rats that got trapped. An average hunt which lasts for two nights, yields ten to twenty kgs of rats that are sold at a price of Rs.100 per kg.

 

 

Ultra Orthodox Jews Making Matzo for Passover Holiday - Photo Essay

Ultra Orthodox Jews Making Matzo for Passover Holiday

Matzo, the unleavened cracker-like bread eaten by Jews during Passover, is produced in Moshav Komeniut under strict Rabinical supervision in full accordance with Jewish law, and is shipped worldwide. About 50 ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, supervised by Rabbis, are employed to roll the matzo by hand, but the baking is done by men. Passover commemorates the flight of Israelites from ancient Egypt as described in Exodus. According to the account, the Jews did not have time to prepare leavened bread before fleeing to the Promised Land, so made matzo during their years of wandering in the desert.

 

 

Pride Divas - Drag Queen performance in South Africa - Photo Essay

Pride Divas - Drag Queen Performance in South Africa

The Pride Divas played to a packed house at the Cape Town cabaret venue On Broadway, making this unique event a highlight of the annual Cape Town Gay Pride Festival. A one off event, the Pride Divas presented The Gurley Show, a multi-media drag tribute featuring showbiz icons from the twenties to the present day. This production included almost 100 years of drag classics performed by some of South Africa's best known and most infamous Drag Divas. In South Africa, gays from all over Africa are seeking refuge on a continent where homosexuality is broadly criticised and rigorously discriminated.

 

 

Japan Nature Wildlife - Photo Essay

Japan Nature Wildlife

The crane, a species of animal designated for special protection as special Japanese natural treasure, survives at marshland of eastern Hokkaido and move to feeding fields in winter as it' s difficult to take feed at frozen river and marshland in winter. About 1,000 cranes survive in the eastern part of Hokkaido island after about 15 cranes once were found in 1924. About 2,500 red-crowned cranes survive in China, Korean Peninsula, eastern Russia and eastern Hokkaido of northern Japanese island.

 

 

 

Bulgarian Sirni Zagovezni Celebration - Photo Essay

Bulgarian Sirni Zagovezni Celebration

Old tires are burnt because they are highly flammable and cheaper than firewood. Bulgarians celebrated 'Sirni Zagovezni' or 'Shrove Sunday', a popular Orthodox Christian holiday, which takes place seven weeks before Easter, and marks the beginning of the longest period of fasting. According to the ancient Christian tradition, on that day people beg each other forgiveness for their wrong-doings during the year. Usually the younger ask the older for forgiveness and are also asked to forgive on the part of their parents, relatives, friends or just the people they live or work with.

 

 

Chinese Opera Troupe Facing a Bleak Future in Thailand - Photo Essay

Chinese Opera Troupe Facing a Bleak Future in Thailand

The Chinese Opera troupe came to Bangkok to perform 3 nights of shows as part of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. It is a family business which includes seamstresses, stagehands, prop builders, and actors. Chinese Opera is based on ancient tales of heroes and the supernatural and was very popular in the Chinese expat community. But now audience numbers are in decline. The future of Chinese Opera in Thailand depends on young people taking up the profession, but there are few economic incentives to join. Many fear that the art form is in danger of being wiped out altogether in the country.

 

 

Ice House Project in Detroit - Photo Essay

Ice House Project in Detroit

The Ice House Detroit Project is an architectural art installation taking place in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Detroit has lost more than half its population since the 1950's. Photographer Gregory Holm and architect Matthew Radune freeze one of Detroit's 20,000 abandoned houses to call attention to the contemporary urban conditions in the city and beyond. The project consists on spraying water on the house which will be gradually covered in ice. Holm plans to photograph the transformation of the installation. In spring, crews will salvage what building materials can be reused and demolish the home.

 

 

Art of War Fighting Championship in Beijing - Photo Essay

Art of War Fighting Championship in Beijing

The Art of War Fighting Championship is China's first professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament. MMA is a full contact combat sport where competitors combine a variety of fighting forms, allowing martial artists of different backgrounds to compete against each other. A descendent of an ancient Greek sport called 'Pankration,' meaning 'All Powers,' MMA re-emerged throughout Japan and Europe in the 1900s, and later popularized through pay-per-view broadcasts in 1993. Nowadays, MMA has grown dramatically in popularity, especially in Las Vegas, where many fighters can enjoy 6 figure contracts.

 

 

Oscar Statuettes Manufacturing - Photo Essay

Oscar Statuettes Manufacturing

The Oscar, officially named the Academy Award of Merit, is plated with copper, nickel and finally gold. It stands 13 1/2 inches (34,29 cm) tall and weighs 8 1/2 pounds (3,85 kg) and has been presented for outstanding work in the motion picture industry since 1929 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar statuettes have been produced at R.S. Owens in Chicago, Illinois, since 1983. This year's Oscars are scheduled to be presented at the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, California, USA on 07 March 2010.

 

 

An Unusual Winter - Photo Essay

An Unusual Winter

This winter much of Europe and North America have experienced above average snowfall. Media reported that blizzards hit cities in the north-eastern US, as government offices had been forced to close for three day. With snow levels in Washington DC accumulating up to 3 foot (91.4 centimetres) schools and airports were forced to close. At the beginning of January, Britain experienced the longest cold snap for 30 years with as much as 40 centimetres of snow falling in London. The Met Office issued warnings about 'exceptionally heavy' snowfall.

 

 

 

Obama’s First Year in Office - Photo Essay

Obama's First Year in Office

Obama's election as the first black US-President generated massive attention. He was celebrated by a world which expected him to instantly reverse the eight years of unpopular George W Bush. A year later, the reality is more sobering: soaring unemployment and ramped-up troop commitments to Afghanistan. He failed to keep his promise to close Guantanamo and also disappointed Europe on global warming. Aside from the hard political issues of the day, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama created a celebrity frenzy unlike anything since John F. and Jackie Kennedy moved into the White House in 1961.

 

 

China's Aging Population - Photo Essay

China's Aging Population

China's aging population has reached 160 million according to state figures. Currently comprising 12.3 percent of the country's total population of 1.3 billion, the percentage of elderly in China is expected to double to 24 percent by 2050, reaching a total of over 320 million according to the United Nations Population Division. China's care system for the elderly is far from sufficient, both in terms of existing space as well as available and qualified nurses. An estimated 8 million elders are in need of accommodation while the current number of available beds in nursing homes is only 2.5 million.

 

 

A Behind the Scenes Look at Japan's Coming of Age Day - Photo Essay

A Behind the Scenes Look at Japan's Coming of Age Day

The Coming of Age festival is celebrated on the second Monday of January in Japan. Nearly all young people who turn twenty years old this year participate in the day's ceremony. Age twenty is considered the beginning of adulthood and is the minimum legal age for voting, drinking, and smoking in Japan. Beauty parlors stay open all night in order to handle the rush for hair styling and kimono fitting on that day. Most young Japanese women dress in traditional kimono for the day. Activities include visiting and paying respect to relatives and attending a ceremony with other local twenty-year-olds.

 

 

Teenagers Injured During Gaza War - Photo Essay

Teenagers Injured During Gaza War

Faraj and his cousin Haneen were injured after their house in Gaza was hit by an Israeli missile strike during the military conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip during the winter of 2008/09. Haneen lost a leg, Faraj lost both his legs as they tried to escape from their home with their families. Haneen currently is in the UAE to be fitted for an artificial leg. Faraj still lives in Gaza City with his family finishing high school to get his certificate. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, hundreds of Palestinians lost limbs during the offensive, many of them children and women.