By Naima Nur
Malcolm Teferi travels to Burkina Faso and Benin to reconnect with his mother's roots and on his journey he discovers truths about himself and the world at large. Teferi's "Fearboy" is the first installation of the FELT MAGAZINE photobook series.
Naima Nur: Why the title "fearboy?"
Malcolm Teferi: Fearboy represents myself and how I am the product of fear and anxiety ingrained in me by the Western world. I was in the literal sense afraid; I was traveling to an unfamiliar place to reconnect with family I hadn't seen in 17 years.
Did you know you were going to turn your trip into a photo series?
It came about naturally. I wanted to learn how they live out there and bring it back to my friends and family, so I got a motorbike and went on the road alone to visit as many interesting places as I could.
Would you say the way of life is dramatically different?
Absolutely. The main difference I noticed is trust. I made a lot of acquaintances on the road and there was a trust and openness there that I had never experienced back in Montreal.
Did you feel a sense of belonging?
I did. It was like finding an undiscovered piece of myself. Like a missing puzzle piece. I didn't want to leave.
What lessons did you bring back with you when you did return?
Well, the most important lesson I learned was to let go of fear and to be open to the world. I think in the West we have a serious mistrust for each other and we communicate in limited ways. In Burkina Faso and Benin, I had no choice, but to trust those around me. In the end, I was able to create lasting social bonds.
So, what is next for fearboy?
I plan on expanding the series by traveling to a few more places. I want to connect with more people and bring their perspectives back home with me.
Malcolm Teferi is a photographer based in Montreal, Canada.