Location: Grand Bassam, Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa
My career as a photographer began while studying at Columbia College in Chicago under the tutelage of Bob Thall, Ruth Thorne-Thomsen and Alan Cohen. These mentors helped me develop a particular affinity for portraiture and encouraged me to...
Ma belle soeur, Fatou. I remember Alpha talking once about the difference of French and English, between "belle soeur" and "sister in law". How the term in French was so much more poetic than the American - so harsh, so legal sounding.
A very tired, but amazing crew... Solo, Sadjo et Dominique... after a stressful week of torrential rains, with rooms flooding, electrical outages, and a few other minor problems while the hotel was filled at capacity. I am so grateful for you all. And I love you. Thank you. Thank you.
In 1992, my husband created a hotel in my honor - Le KORAL BEACH. Monsieur Madi has been our guardian since the beginning. He is one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. And for 23 years, every day that I see Madi, my heart is filled with warmth. Thank you, Madi. As we say in Bambara, "I ni cé, Madi... i ni cé cosèbè."
Davide, our house guardien for many years. And one of the most special people in the world to me. Long sad story, but a few years ago, he was accosted with a bullet to his neck. He was suffering from disorientation, so he went to his village to heal. Since, I had been waiting for Davide to return from his village. I saw his brother the other day, and he said that he was coming back soon. I was very excited to see Davide and was hoping he would work with us at the house again. We all had so many good times together. His wife, Marie and their children would often pass by after school to visit. We were family. But today his brother came to tell us that Davide had died. May you rest in peace, Davide. Repose en paix. Thank you for all you did for me... and us. Thank you for all of your stories of spirits and genies in the village. May they all guide you to a better place. With no more suffering. You were too good to leave us so soon.
On May 7th, Alpha, my husband of 25 years, passed away. He was only 63, so it came as a shock to us all. My daughter, Aïssata and I were in New York City when we received the news. Three days later we found ourselves in Grand Bassam, Côte d'Ivoire, at his funeral, paying hommage to a man who played a very important role in our lives. And as I watched 25 years pass before my eyes, we laid him to rest.
Here in Bassam, Alpha has always been considered a local hero. A self-made man, with little formal education, and a massive personality, he created restaurants and hotels along the coast, that he named"Le Koral Beach" in my honor.
Since, my daughter, Aïssata and I have been trying to pick up the pieces and continue the businesses in his spirit, which still remains very strong. Never have I felt a spirit as strong as his. But that was Alpha. Filled with spirit. No wonder he is still here with us.
In the last few years, I have personally experienced a tremendous amount of death; losing my mother, my older brother, several very dear friends and now my husband. Consciously and unconsciously, I have found that expressing myself through my work, my passion, my photography has seen me through each loss. Death is a part of life. And life is creativity.
These images were all taken on my journey of finding peace during a time of loss. Meanwhile, creating a new life. And all of these people and places have been a part of this sojourn. Saluting a man, and the spirit of a man.
Repose en paix, Alpha Touré. Rest in peace. You will forever be with us.