Index World Press Photo
September 2011 | Edition Fifteen     

“Though I consider photography to be an art, it is  - above all - a powerful means of communication through which man can document daily life and learn and understand through the image, “ says 32-year-old freelance photojournalist Rodrig Mbock, who is based in Yaoundé in Cameroon.

  Rodrig Mbock

His photo essay, featured here - entitled “The Pushers of Bacongo” – was part of a workshop organized by the Congolese photographers’ collective Generation Elili.

“It allowed me to ask myself questions about peoples and cultures that are different from or similar to my own”, says Rodrig.

“In Brazzaville, the largest city and capital of the Republic of the Congo, I spotted a group of men known as pushers in a market. They work by offering to transport anything people want moving. I invited them into a little bar so that they could tell me about themselves and their line of work.

They were intrigued and asked me a number of questions about my work and my country.  I then met the group several times and finally took out my camera when I felt there was a real trust between them and me. 

The photo essay lasted one week during which they guided me through the market and streets of Brazzaville. Sometimes I bought them meals or other little things and at the end, I offered the pushers a souvenir album”. 

Rodrig says working in Africa is difficult because of the low quality of photographic equipment.

“So I work a lot with software such as Lightroom and Photoshop in post-production.  I have asked photo agencies to help us, but to no avail.  In Africa, we are denied the chance to be creative.

We parted company with the pushers in good cheer after sharing a drink together at our bar just like we did on the first day. I felt very close to these young marginalized people who reminded me of the youth in my home country of Cameroon.

The photo I like the best is the one which shows how difficult their job is – the pushers with their feet in a puddle using all their strength and energy to earn a pittance.  I find this photo beautiful and strong and it exudes a certain emotion, almost like warriors leading a chariot”.

Rodrig says he first became conscious of painting and design during childhood. He developed a self-taught mastery of digital art, from picture-taking to retouching. Then, in 2009, the French embassy commissioned a series of photographs emphasizing the place of women in the economy of Cameroon.

As a result, he was selected in 2010 to participate in a training workshop organized by World Press Photo in Dakar.

Copyright 2011, all rights reserved by the photographers