The Super wales

Through this project I wanted to transform today's reality to help understand the beauty and difficulty of secluded first time pygmy mothers in Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a visual projection of what the Ekonda Walé motherhood ritual could become as it continues to resist and embrace pressure of modern life.

Democratic Republic of Congo in 2050. The country has peacefully developed in a sustainable way, including remote villages. Deep in Ekonda territory, the walé initiation ritual has modernized yet preserved its authenticity. With the ultimate power to give birth, first time mothers have always been celebrated supermums. Today Pygmies regard them as superwalés, having embraced and appropriated the now globally pervasive superhero culture. Highly respected by society, superwalés are more than ever honored as queens. But despite all of their prestige and powers, they still experience seclusion very differently.

Redwalé is fufilled. Her loving husband stood by her and provided for her.

Alone and dissillusioned, Blackwalé struggles to see an end to her seclusion.

Goldwalé sees hope now that a suitor is helping her to take back control of her destiny. Sooner or later, superwalés will fortunately all come out of seclusion. On that day and as they have always done, they proudly flaunt the luxurious content of their suitcase (accumulated by their husband or suitor) to celebrate their return to society. Not far away, the red spirits of ancestors welcome a newly born and his supermum. Long live the Wales.


Patrick Willocq

Born in 1969 in Strasbourg, France

Lives and works in Hong Kong and Kinshasa.

Patrick Willocq is a self-taught photographer for 25 years. He has lived 34 years outside France, including 7 years in DR Congo. In 2012, and following a trip back to the Congo, Patrick decides to devote himself entirely to photography (he was working for multinationals in Asia Pacific for over 20 years). Through his work he wants to offer a different image of the Congo and Africa in general, and go beyond images of war which media tend to focus on. The series On the road from Bikoro to Bokonda, won the 2012 AFD best photo project Award and exhibited in over 10 international festivals including Paris Photo 2012 (Finalist SFR Competition) and Photo Off (Paris) 2013. Other photographic works include The 4 Seasons in Shanghai, exhibited at the European Festival of Nude Photography in Arles, Walé O Konga I, exhibited at Portrait(s) (Vichy). With I am Walé Respect Me and Forever Walé, respectively produced in 2013 and 2014, a series about an initiation ritual among Ekonda pygmies, Patrick Willocq has been selected to form part of the British Journal of Photography « the Ones to watch in 2014 ». He is a finalist of the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2013, finalist of Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014 and Renaissance Photography Prize 2014, Winner of La Bourse du Talent Portrait 2014, POPCAP 14 and nominated to the prestigious Arles Discovery Award 2014. Patrick has recently been awarded the Grandprix Fotofestiwal 2015 Łódź in Poland.

The Superwalés is Patrick’s latest project in DR Congo produced in 2015.