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Hotel Afrique

Stuart Franklin explores the elite hotels of Africa capturing how they are places of tension where cultures collide and conflict

Stuart Franklin

Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique Sofitel Hotel. Ivory Coast, Abidjan. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos

The elite hotels of Africa serve as an interface between the tribal, religious, social and cultural aspects of Africa and the global uniformity of international business culture. They are also the places where the unseen resources, such as oil, diamonds and minerals, of many African countries are bartered away behind closed doors.

Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique Bar at the Meriden Hotel. Douala, Cameroon. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique By the pool conducting business at the Tropico Hotel. Luanda, Angola. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique Employee is dropped off at work at the Hotel Amiti. Bamako, Mali. 2005. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos

These are environments which have a strange hybrid quality in their design, their cuisine, with music and TV echoing ‘international’ standards. They are ultimately sites of tension, where cultures collide and conflict.

Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique Pool at the Sofitel Hotel. Abdijan, Ivory Coast. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique By the pool at the Tropico Hotel. Luanda, Angola. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos

At the same time, however, these hotels are viewed by their local communities as symbols of achievement which contradict the usual representations of Africa.

Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique Cocktail bar at the Sofitel Hotel. Abdijan, Ivory Coast. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin Outside the Golden Tulip Hotel. Accra, Ghana. 2005. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique Sofitel Hotel. Rotary Club dinner. Abidjan, Ivory Coast. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique A member of staff of the Executive lounge at the Intercontinental Hotel. Lusaka, Zambia. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin | Hotel Afrique Hotel Meridien. Douala, Cameroon. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos

Far from being despised as enclaves of the rich, these hotels have become ‘objects of desire’, the dream venue for weddings and where to be invited to a business conference is to have reached the pinnacle of success.

Stuart Franklin Garden at the Meridien Hotel. Douala, Cameroon. 2004. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin Lobby of the Gaweye Hotel. Picture taken. Niamey, Niger. 2005. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos

And for most hotel employees there is the reassurance of wages that are higher than they could earn elsewhere and therefore their duties are carried out with pride and self-assurance.

Stuart Franklin Golf caddies take a break at the L'Amiti hotel. Bamako, Mali. 2005. © Stuart Franklin | Magnum Photos