• The Proud Nightwatchman | DYP
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Yirol, South Sudan 2015

The Dinka means “people’ in their own language and there are about 5 million of them in South Sudan. They have many salient characteristics – a deep sense of community, a obsession with their cattle and an average height 3 inches higher than the average for the human race. The men couple this height with great muscularity and physical strength. Each Dinka faction – and there are many- will fight and kill to protect their community and their cattle from outsiders – and they do this with guns not primitive weaponry.

In this vast cattle camp near Yirol, I stayed late one afternoon to watch the behaviour of the adult herdsmen and this particular man showed all the aforementioned characteristics – he was at least 6 foot 5 inches of muscle, he carried a gun and he watched attentively over his community below. The picture tells an accurate story of daily life, not a contrived one.

I understand why depiction of guns anywhere in an image can hint at news reportage or photojournalism rather than art, but on this occasion, I believe the gun offers quiet dignity and completes the photograph. It is because of that gun that there is serenity below, not in spite of it. Life in a cattle camp in a war torn country is made safer by the gun , not more dangerous.

I believe that this image conveys the deep pride of the Dinka. The proud nightwatchman has pride in his role and his responsibilities – and this lends an almost inconceivable romanticism to the work.

We got on well because he liked the pictures I had of British cows – which he found hilarious.. As always, its all about homework.

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