I have been to East Africa, to South Africa, to West Africa – and in each place, there is one image which beautifully summarises the lives of women and young children: the child, carried on the mother’s back. Tiny babies, chunky toddlers – it’s a continent-wide scenario. How many babies have grown into toddlerhood across Africa, seeing the world pass by on its side?
This picture, taken in northern Ghana, could have been taken in any number of countries. The child is serene, not crying – I’ve never seen these bound babies bawling. And the mother is both worker and childminder, the lifelong role of the African woman. She will carry this child on her back until she has another – and this child will then be old enough to carry the next. They learn young, in Ghana; five year olds strap younger siblings onto their backs and pacify them as they walk.