‘The model is holding a child’s doll, looking out over the wreckage. It represents the future generations we’re condemning to environmental catastrophe’

Outside Dakar, Senegal’s capital, is a rubbish dump with its own name: Mbeubeuss. The land on which it sits was once flat swampland. It began as a landfill site in 1968; today, it is a mountain of rubbish. It has accumulated so much plastic waste from the city that to reach it you have to drive on a road of compacted trash.

This is not the Africa I grew up in. As a child here in the 1970s and 80s, it was not like this. But when I returned in 2012, I was shocked at what I found. Here in Senegal, there was plastic waste everywhere – at roadsides, in trees, everywhere. The younger generation don’t know any different: it’s just part of their environment now. I decided I wanted to shoot a series to raise awareness of environmental issues in Senegal, in the hope that people would realise that things do not have to be this way. I wanted to connect environmental issues with the cultural interests of the population, and started researching animism – the belief that objects and the natural world are imbued with spirits.

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