Le Tchad Dense A photography project by Francesco Merlini

N’Djamena, Mongo, Mondou, Gorè, Zama, the refugee camps of Dosseye and Danamadja.
It’s hot everywhere, always, without any truce. People indulge air’s thickness with slow movements. Life is slow, expectations are low.

Chad is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. Since 1996 power lies firmly in the hands of President Déby and his political party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement. Chad remains plagued by political violence and recurrent attempted coups d’état. The president has prohibited to take pictures in all the country, claiming national security.

Soldiers are everywhere, especially since Boko Haram’s recent attack on the shore of Lake Chad where new refugee camps opened. In this district that hosts many camps like Dosseye and Danamadja, population has doubled in the last ten years and continues to grow. In order to save their lives and the lives of their children, tens of thousands of people have escaped across the border leaving all their belongings.

Chad has more than 200 distinct ethnic groups which create diverse social structures. The colonial administration and independent governments have attempted to impose a national society, but for most Chadians the local or regional society remains the most important influence outside the immediate family. 
Chad’s greatest ally is France, which maintains more than 1000 soldiers in the country. Déby relies on the French to help repel the rebels, and France gives the Chadian Army logistical and intelligence support for fear of a complete collapse of regional stability. Nevertheless, Franco-Chadian relations were soured by the granting of oil drilling rights to the American Exxon company in 1999.

Discouraged refugees, young rascals, stubborn farmers, proud birds hunters, industrious brides, wise old men. I’ve collected some pieces of a broken country.

Monthly Photo Contest

Color film portrait photograph of a young woman by Michelle Marshall
© Michelle Marshall

2021 Portrait AWARD Deadline: 31 May 2021

"In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody."
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Portrait photography has one of the oldest and most interesting histories that harkens back to the early days of the medium. Through portraits of iconic figures or ordinary people, we discover a deep interest in others.

Recent works or gems from your archives, classic or experimental, and through any kind of storytelling: we want to discover the most powerful and captivating images of today’s portrait photography. We are open to all interpretations and want to see faces that gaze right into the soul!


1st Prize: $1000 · 2nd Prize: $600 · 3rd Prize: $400

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