Seif Kousmate
MOROCCO
Born in 1988 in Essaouira, Morocco, Seif Kousmate is a freelance photojournalist, based between Paris and Morocco. At age 17, he moved to France, studied engineering, and started working in that field after completing his master degree. A few years later, he decided to quit his corporate job and travel for 18 months around South-East Asia, Japan and Canada, during which he started a photography traveling blog, to share his stories and report on his journey. This is how he entered the field and took the decision to build a career as a professional photographer. At the end of 2016, he went back to his home country of Morocco and worked with a local production company on a story, reporting winter life in a remote village in the Atlas Mountains. After that, in 2017, he lived for several weeks in the Gourougou Mountains in order to document the situation of sub-Saharan migrants waiting to cross the border to Europe. He’s currently working on several other topics related to social minorities, and environmental issues. “For me, photojournalism is my contribution to change the world around me and improve the mentalities. Thought my photographs I hope to bring to light stories that society is not aware of, and open the debate, in order to make a change, one story at a time.”
Six Meters from the Dreamland
Thousands of migrants from Sub-saharan Africa leave their country in an attempt to reach Europe. The ones who don’t have the means to cross by sea, choose to travel over ground through Ceuta or Melilla, two Spanish enclaves in the north of Morocco. The migrants wait up to several months/years to « boza » – succeed in crossing the Spanish border -, living in camps hidden in the forest near the European border. Migrants clandestinely enter Morocco by crossing the border with Algeria or Mauritania. After a long journey, Morocco is the last step before Europe. The goal is to reach the top of the Massif Gourougou, in the North of Morocco, close to the city of Nador, where lies a camp sight hidden in the forest. Up to 1500 men live there in precarious conditions, waiting for the day they will cross the border. Life in the camp is very stressful. The Moroccan auxiliary forces attempt to dismantle the Gourougou camp several times a week. They destroy the inhabitants’ food and burn their belongings. The migrants show impressive perseverance and resilience; some of them have tried to cross the fence over 100 times. « Hot returns » by the Spanish Guardia Civil send them back to Morocco right after crossing. Migrants have tirelessly come back to the top of the mountain to try again and catch their dream. Going back home is not even an option, as the pressure from relatives is too high. They become obsessed with the idea of succeeding. Since March 2015, after the opening of the office of applications for asylum, the Spanish Government has hardened the migratory laws aimed at people trying to enter Spain illegally. Nevertheless, the migrants continue to attempt to cross the border and dream of the day they will leave Gourougou.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.