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Robin Hammond's 'Condemned: Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis'

Abandoned by their governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies: A voiceless minority resigned to the dark forgotten corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, living out their lives behind the bars of filthy prisons - Lives condemned to quiet misery... These are the mentally disabled living in Africa's regions in crisis. Severely mentally disabled men and women are shackled and locked away in Juba Central Prison for years on end. The new nation of South Sudan faces a tremendous challenge to build a modern country capable of caring for all of its citizens. Juba, Sudan. January 2011.  (Photo by Robin Hammond/Panos)

Robin Hammond's 'Condemned: Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis'

Condemned: Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis by Robin Hammond presents a profound body of work produced over seven years in nine African countries.

“Condemned” was selected for the 2013 FotoEvidence Book Award by a prestigious jury that included: Olivier Laurent, editor of the British Journal of Photography; Jean-Francois Leroy, founder and director Visa Pour L’image; Maggie Steber, photographer; and Patrick Witty, international picture editor at Time.

Svetlana Bachevanova, publisher of FotoEvidence, announced the release of “Condemned” saying, “In the third year of the FotoEvidence Book Award, FotoEvidence is extremely proud to again be publishing a powerful and important work that gives voice and draws attention to the plight of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. ‘Condemned’, shot over seven years in nine countries in Africa, embodies Hammond’s profound commitment to expose the mental health consequences of conflict and his deep compassion for those left permanently scarred and without the care needed to heal.”

Hammond captures both the deplorable conditions that the mentally ill endure and the overwhelming challenge that mental health workers face with limited resources and inadequate or failed systems health care systems in which the mentally ill have the lowest priority. Interviews with both the incarcerated mentally ill and those working to heal them - secular mental health workers and both Christian and Muslim faith healers - provide blunt evidence of the past trauma and current suffering of his subjects and the challenges and frustration of those struggling with limited resources to find ways to address the needs of vast numbers of mentally ill. Shame and prejudice based on traditional and religious beliefs about mental illness add cultural obstacles to the effective treatment of the mentally ill in many regions of Africa.

The hardbound book measures 8 inches by 12 inches, with a matt laminated cover. It contains 89 black and white images, an introduction by the photographer and raw fragments of interviews conducted with patients, care givers, healers, and mental health administrators. Printed on 100lb paper on a Heidelberg press at Ofset Yapimavi in Istanbul, the photographs bring a rich aesthetic feel to a subject matter that could be considered harsh and disturbing.

Condemned includes work shot in: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan and Uganda. Hammond produced this work over a period of seven years using his own resources, support from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and finally using crowd funding to complete the project.
About Robin Hammond: Robin Hammond is a freelance photojournalist born in New Zealand. He has been part of the photo agency Panos Pictures since 2007.
The winner of four Amnesty International awards for Human Rights journalism, Robin has dedicated his career to documenting human rights and development issues around the world, but especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2011 Hammond won the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award which allowed him to document in Zimbabwe for four months. Actes Sud published a book of the photos to coincide with an exhibition of the work in Paris in November 2012. In 2013 he won the FotoEvidence book award that will result in the publication of his long term project on mental health in Africa, Condemned. The same body of work was exhibited in September 2012 at the photojournalism festival Visa Pour l’Image.

After living in Japan, the United Kingdom and South Africa, Robin Hammond currently lives in Paris, France. He contributes to many international newspapers and magazines including National Geographic, Time Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, The New York Times, and Polka Magazine. He also works regularly with various non-governmental organizations. (Fotoevidence.com)

The book is available at Amazon.

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