Meet the journalist using graphic novels to tell Africa's untold stories

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It's the age-old question facing foreign correspondents: how to make westerners care about horrific atrocities in faraway lands?

One reporter has turned to photographic novels to grab his readers' gaze and focus it on the horrific plights of child soldiers, labourers, and genital mutilation victims across Africa.

(Marc Ellison/ Daniel Lafrance)
(Marc Ellison/ Daniel Lafrance)

Marc Ellison, a self-described "post-war correspondent", takes photographs of survivors and places them side by side with graphic reimaginings of moments from their past to tell their real stories - and the finished product is compelling.

The Glasgow-based reporter said: "If it was just illustration you could forget it was real. So the pictures and videos really nail it home these are actual humans who go through this.

Marc on a trip (Marc Ellison)
Marc on a trip (Marc Ellison)

"I'll never forget meeting a girl who was forced to cannibalise her husband after she was made to watch him being butchered by soldiers.

"I mean, how do you tell a story like that?

"A lot of journalists parachute in for the conflict - the main event - but I'm more interested in digging through the fallout and seeing how places rebuild."

A strip from the Safe House graphic novel (Marc Ellison/ Daniel Lafrance)
A strip from the Safe House graphic novel (Marc Ellison/ Daniel Lafrance)

His latest project, Safe House, focuses on the barbaric and lucrative practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in northern Tanzania with the "cutting season" running through December.

Girls as young as nine are cut as a "mandatory, cultural stepping stone marking them ready for child marriage" and each year many die from bleeding out or infection.

(Marc Ellison/Daniel Lafrance)
(Marc Ellison/Daniel Lafrance)

The story hits hard, with abduction, rape and violence a staple for these girls, yet offers hope by highlighting a safe haven run by locals that has saved scores of them.

But, its existence means parents are starting early this year with reports of some girls having died already.

Girls who have been helped by the centre ( Macr Ellison/ Daniel Lafrance)
Girls who have been helped by the centre (Marc Ellison/ Daniel Lafrance)

Ellison, who has travelled to Uganda, Mozambique and Mali, says he is an "Afrophile" and wants to dispel the myths and negative stereotypes that beset the continent.

His work has been translated into Swahili and is even used as a learning tool in schools and communities to educate locals and parents.

(Marc Ellison/Daniel Lafrance)
(Marc Ellison/Daniel Lafrance)

Ellison said he will partner with a local radio station on his next trip, to the Central African Republic in the new year, a country currently torn by violence.

He went on: "I struggle to draw stickmen, so I have been lucky to have such talented artists helping me, like Daniel Lafrance.

"It has empowered these children to tell their tales and given them a platform of sorts. For that, I'm happy.

(Marc Ellison)
(Marc Ellison)

"Of course, being away can be very emotionally draining but I'm the first to admit its not about the journalist.

"We're just here to chronicle the horror, to try and make people listen. We don't have to live it like they do."

Hard copies of the graphic novel Safe House can be bought here with all proceeds going towards the centre.

A selection of Ellison's work can be found on his website.