Notes : Daniel Ridings

February 21, 2011


Filed under: Malawi,Photography,Rolleiflex MX,Tessar — at 11:39 am

Courtex. He would have preferred the shot with his jacket on, but it turned out blurred. Slow shutter speed (1/10 wide-open).

Courtex at work

April 26, 2010

Good morning Malawi

Filed under: Malawi — at 9:17 am

I got a call to my room from the reception this morning, just as I was leaving.

He speaks little English, but has managed to educate his daughters. It is a struggle. This note was pressed into my hand.


Good Morning Mr Daniel

First of all let us say thanks for what you did to NN. You help her with money for school fees. She was worrying about school since the day she stay at home without going to school but now she is saying thanks for you. But the main purpose of this letter to you is that the whole family of Mr and Mrs NN want to beg you that if possible pliz help us. We don’t have enough food this year and we are so many in our family so we say please and please. We are not forcing but we are just begging. Help us with money so that we can buy enough food to pass this year. Even though we didn’t see you face to face but we know that you are a good man and all the family need to see you the time you have free. We have heard that you are going soon so let us just say have a nice journey. May God be with you wherever you go and don’t forget. Help us.

From: The whole family of NN.


So … what would you do?

September 5, 2009

The Centre for Language Studies

Filed under: Malawi — at 12:38 pm

I spend some of my time, not as much as I’d like, working for a NUFU (Norwegian academic research organization) project based at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway and University of Malawi, Chancellor College, in Zomba, Malawi.

It’s work in computational lexicography and corpus linguistics. I have finally managed to install some of the resources and programs outside the internal (local) network.

The Centre for Language Studies

Some of the corpora can be found at:

Corpora from the Centre of Language Stuides

I am now working on making the lexical databases available on the net.

April 13, 2009

Philip Tambala

Filed under: Malawi,Photography,Rolleicord V — at 4:18 pm

One of these days I will gather the strength to write an in depth report of the on-going story of my contact with Philip Tambala and the aftermath. I write “aftermath” because he has died. There’s a story there too.

Philip Tambala 1

From the same ditch where we were sitting:

Philip Tambala 2

Manpower: Lumberjacks

Filed under: Malawi,Photography,Rolleicord V — at 4:12 pm

In Africa there is not the same incentive to automate or to create efficient work-flows. There are so many people looking for work.

I passed by these men working in the stream in Zomba (Malawi). They had already felled large gum trees (Eucalyptus) and were breaking the trunks down into small pieces; not small pieces, just smaller.

These pieces of timber were then taken up on land, propped up, lines are traced and then they manually, using the same technique of two workers on one saw, cut out planks from the smaller pieces of tree trunks.

Lumber jacks 1

A closer look:

Lumber jacks 2

The next stage, on land:

Lumber jacks 3

March 23, 2009

Malawi: Feb. 2009

Filed under: Malawi,PAW 2009,Photography — at 12:01 pm

There’s a family I’ve been involved with for a couple of years now in Malawi. The father, Philip, died a few months ago. If you dig around on my blog or ask me, I can point to some background information.

This year the priority is food. It always is in Malawi. The price of fertilizer has gone up almost 3 times from last year and cost around 90 USD a bag. That is a total insult to the masses of farmers out in the country who rarely see cash. The majority has never seen 90 USD at one time. It takes about 8 bags to cover a field large enough to supply a family with food.

You can see the difference. The corn (maize) on the left is a field that belongs to the family I am helping. The corn to the right, to someone else in the hamlet who couldn’t afford fertilizer:

With and without fertilizer

Dorte said one thing to me in English: “blankets”. And this is when she said it:


The cold season is coming and sleeping on the earth can be very, very cold.

There’s some more pictures here:

Feb. 2009

July 21, 2008


Filed under: Malawi,Photography — at 10:46 pm

I found a roll of Tmax400 that got misplaced from an earlier trip to Malawi and processed it over the week-end.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, but when the rains come in time and in reasonable amounts, there is plenty to eat. These children were enjoying mangos:

Children with mangos

When Alick and I stopped to shop for some rugs that he wanted to take home with him (we had spent the day at Lake Malawi), these children ran to meet us.

Children 1

Children 2

Children 3

They were all taken with an M3 and a 50 Summitar.

March 2, 2008

Street portraits from Zomba, Malawi

Filed under: Malawi,PAW 2008 — at 12:06 pm

I haven’t been working on my gallery, PAW or blog (at least, not noticeably working on them) for a couple of weeks because I have been away, in Zomba, Malawi. I am working in a bi-lateral research project between NTNU in Trondheim, Norway (The Norwegian Technical University) and Chancellor’s College, University of Malawi. In Malawi I am working with the Centre for Language Studies.

I took my Rolleicord V this time and took a couple of rolls. It was immediately recognized as a camera in Malawi, not just a curious little box. So people on the street would often like to have their portrait taken.

This young man was a filmmaker. He was working on his film, “Give me back my property” and is evidently inspired by Kung Fu films. He practised martial arts.

This next man is someone I would pass by every morning as I walked to the office.

I met these girls as I was walking down to the market on a Saturday afternoon:

Individual 1

Individual 2

Individual 3

There are more pictures taken with the Rolleicord in the gallery: here, here and here.

Ladies and gents, welcome to The G-String Club

Filed under: Malawi,PAW 2008 — at 11:53 am

The thing to do on a Friday night in Malawi, and many places in Africa, is to go out dancing and drinking. All things considered, I got the impression that dancing was more important than drinking. Some were drunk, but not many, if you take consideration for how many people were at the club.

G-string club

I met this man both nights that I went there. He is the one who asked:

Have you tried malawian girls?



I’m married.

(High five … he liked that answer)

Together with Jannick.

A happy couple.

The man recognized me as I walked around town a few days later, stopped his car and came back to greet me, to make sure he got a copy of the picture.

Dancing …

And the owner, Joy …


February 14, 2008

Bought a roof on my lunch-break

Filed under: Malawi,PAW 2008,Photography,Uncategorized — at 10:35 am

Some of you might remember Phillip Tambala. I met him on my working trip to Malawi in November last year. I wrote a little report at the time.

One thing I knew I wanted to do this time, was to get a roof on his house. He had put up the walls, but couldn’t afford anything more.

The little house Phillip built

It is a little late, but anything is better than nothing. It is late because the rainy season has been going on for a couple of months and a wall is collapsing in the little hut he, his wife, his two own children and four adopted children have been living in.

Their present house

Word gets around and Phillip was waiting for me when I arrived. I knew he would be. I was prepared for it and was very happy that what I wanted to help with was exactly what he wanted help with. We hadn’t discussed it before.I didn’t have time to go to the bank so I sent him with some cash to change. It wasn’t enough, but he bought what he could and hid the sheets in the market for safe-keeping:

The first installment of roofing

Believe me, if I tilted that camera upwards and caught some faces I would have left the market as an unhappy man.I took these on my lunch break and by then I had passed by an ATM and pulled out the rest of the cash so he could buy the remaining sheets. While we were at the market he introduced me to his sister:

Phillip and his sister

He is holding the portraits from last year in his hand.I took some more of his sister because she wanted some too the next time I came down.

Just another view taken of her in her daily environment. I bought some cucumbers (5 for 75 cents) and some fruits.

I haven’t done much in the way of processing the images. I am using a laptop (untested) that I brought down. It has Ubuntu installed and I processed the Nikon raw (NEF) files using the GIMP and dcraw (both are available on GNU/Linux).

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