Albino baby girl and her Mwila mother - Angola

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This mwila tribewoman was in Hale and came to me, showing a blue cap coming out from her clothes. i first did not understood there was a baby under this cap. Then she opened her clothes to let appear this albino baby girl. She had some little dreadlocks and was incredibly white. The mother was proud to pause for the picture and discovered the magic of polaroid!
I have seen many albinos people in Angola, in the tribes. They are mainly in very bad health, as the sun is very hot there...
Perhaps the most moving picture i ever took as the future of this albino baby is not the happiest you can get in this remote area of Africa.

Mwila (or Mwela, Mumuhuila, or Muhuila) women are famous for their very special hairstyles. Hairstyles are very important and meaningful in Mwila culture. Women coat their hair with a red paste called, oncula, which is made of crushed red stone. They also put a mix of oil, crushed tree bark, dried cow dung and herbs on their hair. Besides they decorate their hairstyle with beads, cauri shells (real or plastic ones) and even dried food. Shaving the forehead is considered as a sign of beauty. The plaits, which look like dreadlocks, are called nontombi and have a precise meaning. Women or girls usually have 4 or 6 nontombi, but when they only have 3 it means that someone died in their family. Mwila Women are also famous for their necklaces, which are central and meaningful as for each period of their life corresponds a specific type of necklace. Young girls wear necklaces, heavy red made with beads covered with a mix of soil land latex. Later girls wear yellow necklaces called, Vikeka, made with wicker covered with earth. They keep until their wedding which can last 4 years. When married they start to wear a set of stacked up bead necklaces, called Vilanda. Women never take their necklace off and have to sleep with it. They also use headrests to protect their hairstyles. However, more and more men and women dress in a western way, because people make fun of them when they go to markets. Women sometimes walk 50 kilometers to sell goods in Huila market. Mwila rarely eat meat, they rather eat porridge, corn, chicken, honey and milk. They kill their cattle only on special occasions. Mwila are not allowed to mention people’s name in public.

© Eric Lafforgue

NathaliePrecil, Mateo Medina Correa, and 631 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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  1. pcgn7 28 months ago | reply

    magnificent image - she looks as proud of her beautiful child as any mother would be
    I think there is hope here

  2. Photox0906 28 months ago | reply

    Un véritable chef d'oeuvre qui résume à lui seul tout votre talent et la profonde humanité de votre regard !
    Bravo encore pour ce cliché et pour votre travail en général. Tous mes voeux vous accompagnent à l'aube de cette nouvelle année de clichés et de rencontres !

  3. Rubén P. 26 months ago | reply

    I’ve blogged this on

    We have 6.631 followers.

    If you want you can join our group and post your pictures.

    The best ones will be featured on

    Thank you. See you.

  4. intrepidacious 25 months ago | reply

    Beyond beautiful. What a compelling photo!

  5. kathleen.gerber 24 months ago | reply

    Very powerful image...............

  6. kathleen.gerber 24 months ago | reply

    An amazingly powerful photo

  7. mcclouds 22 months ago | reply

    I wonder where she is now.

  8. Clockwork Orangutan 20 months ago | reply

    Profound connection and amazing contrast. This is truly a remarkable photograph, Eric.
    It will sit in my memory.

  9. unicorn 81 17 months ago | reply

    magnificent !!!

  10. Kurokami 14 months ago | reply

    The mother in this photo is so beautiful, and I feel for her little baby. I've helped out in a few hospitals in Angola, and I've seen the sort of suffering and illness that albino children have to endure because of sun exposure.

    I'm curious to learn more about the Mumuila people, and I met a lady in traditional dress on my last trip to Angola. Would you be willing to tell me a bit about the meaning of her hairstyle and beads?

  11. FLYINGFEET 13 months ago | reply

    transformed !!!!!!!!!!! thank you

  12. SeaThreePeeO 12 months ago | reply

    Such an amazing picture. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  13. maatpower 9 months ago | reply

    Wow...A lesson in truth and history in one image. We all come from the same root. Our Black African Mother! I love this image. Asante Sana!

  14. musggo 8 months ago | reply

    Benditos ojos los tuyos, porque gracias a ellos recorro el mundo... lo siento, lo palpo, lo vivo. .. Millones de gracias

  15. Doug Clegg 8 months ago | reply

    Always amazing photos as well as instructional and informative narratives. Thanks for sharing your life and subjects with us Eric

  16. katemaranon 8 months ago | reply

    This picture of a beautiful mother and her equally beautiful child is a gift to the world. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  17. jnhPhoto 6 months ago | reply

    fantastic photo and narrative. One of my favorites of all time.

  18. jaci dCL is busy painting 2 months ago | reply

    This is a very powerful image,thank you for charing.

  19. jaci dCL is busy painting 2 months ago | reply

    Hi,I'm an oil artist and I would like to ask you permition to use this image as inspiration for one of my painting.Let me know what do you think?

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