Yes, I just Googled Burundi…go ahead, I’m sure you want to as well…

The photographer Anais López and writer Eva Smallegange spent 2 years traveling and documenting the everyday life in what is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world. There goal was to make a book telling stories of the average day to day lives of the people who live there, concentrating on the phenomenon that nothing can get done in Burundi unless you know the right people. So much of what we do as documentary photographers is based on help with networking which we get from the people we meet along the way; there story exemplifies this phenomenon. 

They start with a man named Koky who enlightens them to the ways of getting things done which includes a different set of systems and “currencies” than what we are used to. Bottles of Fanta, phone credit-chips, bars of chocolate and even “hours of dancing” are all recorded in detail. By networking back and forth, using the system of “I know someone who knows someone…” they are able to make remarkable chapters come together which tell the stories of stonecutters, soldiers, priests, a detective and yes even the President of Burundi.

It is a very complex book with foldout poster-maps and legends describing the usage of different “currencies” .

It is surprising to find that the book has almost 300(!) pages but feels quite light; it is based on the form of a bible, the only book which most Burundi have at home, so the pages are very thin, but just keep coming and coming wiht about 90 color photographs and several very interesting stories.

Here is more to see.

If you are in NY there is a lecture series at Photoville where Anais will present the book, here a link.

And here is a link to see the book as a video and all the details where to order.

I highly recommended you get this one, there are about 1000 printed but I think they are going fast.