“Sugar Daddy”

mickyates Africa, Children, Color Efex Pro, Malawi, Nikon, Photography, Social development, Travel Leave a Comment

At first glance, a friendly couple, in the market place in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe. Then, at second glance, a “Sugar Daddy“. Most research has suggested that this inter-generational phenomenon has contributed to the spread of the HIV virus – indeed many countries, including South Africa, run public health awareness and education campaigns on the issue. There is some recent evidence that actually it’s not all a negative – as there is more awareness of the virus threat amongst such couples. But generally the consensus is that it is a rather sad and widespread social trend.

The image was originally used by the Guttmacher Institute, in 2005, to head an article on the subject. The article is still online.

It is from a 2002 visit I made to Malawi, in my then-role as Board Trustee of Save the Children. The advisory group was there to study the HIV/Aids challenge, and ways that Save could do more. The “historical record” of the trip is here.

Fuller photo essay is here.

UPDATE: Whilst this is an old story, the basic truths of it still persist. There is a emerging culture of “blesser” and “blessee” in some countries, where effectively the young woman is “blessed” by a (usually) older man – money for favours.

See South Africa’s Sugar Daddy Culture from SBS Australia, 2016

And Fighting The Curse of The Blessers from the BBC, 2016

There is even a Facebook Page  … of course there is …


From a photographic point of view, the image was taken with the Nikon D1X, and 17-35mm zoom – at 35mm, 1/160 sec and  F/6.3. To remind everyone, the D1X, Nikon’s “professional” digital SLR at that time was not a full frame camera, as it had a 1.5 crop factor. In fact it also only had a 5.9 Megapixel sensor … One more proof that the megapixel wars aren’t everything.

The image and the story is the key.