Photo Essay – North Africa
A Virtual Walk Through Town
What would you see if you were visiting a North African city or town? Would you seek out the tourist attractions? What about the places of greatest historic, cultural or religious significance? Maybe you’d want to see scenes from daily life. Come with us on a virtual tour of mosques and markets, bakeries, cafés and classrooms.
If you haven’t seen it, be sure to watch the video The Spirit of North Africa and read related articles.
Note: photos in this collection come from several different countries. Some are from Commnet Media.
Christianity once flourished in North Africa but is largely forgotten by many today. In the foreground of this photo are the remains of a Christian basilica. In the background, a gleaming mosque towers above the ruins.
Pictures from the Mosque
While the mosque does not play the same role in North African Islam as the church does in Christianity, these sites are a source of pride and identity for the people of North Africa, and some are quite beautiful.
Many North Africans pray at home or not at all, but the mosque is still a gathering point, especially for older men like the one in this picture. The beads in this man’s hand are like a rosary, with each bead representing one of the names of God.
This is how the prayer goes: “Subhan Allah” (Glory be to God) 33 times, “Al-hamdu lilah” (Praise be to God) 33 times, and “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest) 33 times. The statements of praise total 99, the number of beads on the string.
Like many other people worldwide, North Africans may combine ancient traditions with the tools and symbols of modern life. This man in this photo reads from the Qur’an while taking a call on his mobile phone.
Photos from the Marketplace
Leaving the mosque, we move to the marketplace, where men and women continue to ply the trades of their ancestors. They create products for local use as well as for tourists. Some are worried about these traditions disappearing, however. Few of the young are interested in learning time-consuming crafts like rug weaving.
The man in this picture works to create traditional slippers. The stench of the glue is overwhelming. The finished product, however, is beautiful to behold—rows and rows of brightly colored shoes worn for parties and ceremonial purposes.
Men and women alike may sell fruits and vegetables in the public markets. Many people shop in these places daily for fresh produce and other foods. Do you recognize all the items in this picture?
These pottery dishes are tajines. Restaurants and families use them to cook North African cuisine, largely different types of stew, over an open flame.
Images from around Town
Donkeys are still an important mode of transport in North Africa, especially in the ancient cities or medinas that have very tight walkways.
Every neighborhood in this community has its own bakery like the one in this photo. Women make bread and pastries in the morning and take the dough to the bakery to be baked for a small fee.
Tradition has it that each neighborhood of the ancient cities must have five things: a bakery, a bathhouse, a fountain, a religious school and a mosque.
A group of men gather frequently with friends at a local café. They talk about the latest news, watch sports on TV and play cards and other games. If you were living in North Africa, you might frequent a café like this one as a way to meet men in your city. Women are more likely to socialize in other places, such as homes.
Many North African communities are suffering economically and have few desirable jobs to offer new graduates, but even so, families value education for both sons and daughters.
Technology brings TV from around the world into North African homes. Even the most meager may have satellite dishes on their roofs like those pictured here.
Some of the programs available might expose them more to the secular world, while others would reinforce traditional values. Someone who wanted to learn about the Bible and what it means to follow Jesus could also find such programing in their language.
And technology continues to move on. In addition to satellite TV, North Africans are using smartphones more and more. Media ministry is increasingly significant in sharing the gospel with the unreached.
Remember the donkey we met in the medina? In the desert and tourist towns, you can still see camels, as well. A few dollars will pay for a five-to-ten-minute ride on a beautifully decorated camel along this Mediterranean beach.
Want to Go Deeper? Read…
- Veiled Hearts, an article about the inner lives of North African women
- North Africa & the Global Youth Culture, exploring the hopes and expectations of young people in North Africa today
- The Early Church in North Africa, unpacking ways God was at work in this place centuries ago
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