Koglweogo. Defenders of Nature. Traditional Self-Defence Forces of Burkina Faso

Shortlist 2018

Antonio Aragon Renuncio

"I have always loved photography and stories." 

Antonio Aragon Renuncio has been teaching photography for over 17 years in several universities. Antonio writes about photography. His work has been published across digital and print media internationally. Founder/director of Nostromo Photographers Association (Spain), editor in Xplorer Magazine (Nicaragua), CEO of Xtreme PhotoWS (Burkina Faso), founder, leads the NGO OASIS.

Antonio has participated in more than 250 exhibitions worldwide and won more than 200 prizes: UNICEF, LBS, HIPA, Xposure, Direct Look, POYLatam, UNESCO, EPOTY, LifePressPhoto, PhotoVisa, SIPA, PX3 and others.

The Conflict

Koglweogo. Defenders of Nature. Traditional Self-Defence Forces of Burkina Faso

About two decades ago in Burkina Faso lack of state security, corruption of law enforcement and rampant graft among the judiciary have led to the emergence of armed self-defence groups created mainly to fight robbers, thieves and armed assailants. These militias, popularly known in the Mossi language as "Koglweogo" (which translates to something like "Defenders of Nature"), have stepped in for law and occupy the territory where police and military forces are absent within a completely corrupt system. The Koglweogo bring traditional uniforms, antiquated weapons, unorthodox methods of interrogation, lashes, chains, machetes... extreme punishment. The 40 soldiers of the Koglweogo in Goudrin who watch over and care for more than 53,000 inhabitants of this slum outside Ouagadougou are very clear: "Those who do not like the Koglweogo are just thieves".