Joana Choumali – Photographer and Artist

Joanna Choumali Acclaimed Ivorian Artist
Joana Choumali with Global Group Media CEO Oni Aningo



(*« Sisi Barra* » “Smoke Work” in Bambara Language)

San Pedro is a city in Ivory Coast, located in the Southwest of the country, approximately 300 kilometers of Abidjan. This forest region is specialised in wood trade. Charcoal is made with wood waste left behind by big corporations exporting and exploiting wood.  This project intends to unravel the grueling everyday life, in a hostile environment, of these invisible women, who re-use wood chips left behind by big corporations.  “Sisi Barra” tells a story of economic exploitation of marginalized women for a pittance, their social stigma and coping strategies with violence.

Fire Fighter

Rural women endure limited access to productive resources, education and social norms confining them at the bottom of the ladder; where the perspectives of a better future are reduced for the younger ones, perpetuating the inferiority of their status.

Black Scarves

My work reflects women and children working 7 days a week in a hostile environment. The suffering of these women is tangible and their penetrating and fierce look are like symbols of courage, endurance, resignation and oppression. I hope, by this topic, to participate to the betterment of humanity through the presentation of editorially based imagery representing humanistic themes including social injustice.

I am interested in highlighting the disastrous consequences on young people’s lives, especially young girls. My objective is to promote awareness about social injustice, gender disparities and the multiple challenges of the female charcoal production workers in the city of San Pedro. I was also inspired by these resilient women to give them the opportunity to share their life stories beyond charcoal factories, using an empowering approach to make them go from pariah to women.


Hard work

I am from Côte d’Ivoire. I live and work in Abidjan. I’ve spent my entire childhood in Africa. This allows me to understand unexpected nuances in African culture. I also travelled extensively in Western countries, and it allows me to compare and see the nuances of a culture to another. Photoreportage as a genre, allows me to convey my vision of an Africa that is between tradition and modernity. I want to address subjects that concern my country, my generation, my continent, from within. Changing opinions and challenging prejudices drive me. As a photographer, a woman, an african, a wife, and a mother of two, my goal is to help improve the everyday life of this community, by addressing their issues and raise awareness about their life conditions. I also would like to attract the attention of an organisation that would help them get a better way of life.