Born in the Netherlands in 1978, Jan-Joseph Stok has been working in Africa for more than 10 years, covering mainly conflict zones or post-conflict zones. From 2008 until 2011 he has worked as one of the Africa/conflict photographer for the Dutch newspaper Trouw and his work has been been widely published internationally, covering countries like Darfur, Somalia, Chad, Congo, Nigeria.. In January 2006, Stok was awarded "Best photojournalist of the year under 30' in the Netherlands at the Zilveren Camera. Also in 2006, while Stok was based in London for one year, he continued to work as a freelancer while completing a Master in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. In 2008, his picture of Laurent N'kunda dressed in his suit taken at his home was awarded best foreign picture of the year in the Netherlands. These days, Stok spends most of his time abroad on assignment in Africa for Newspapers and magazines, traveling regularly to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to other African countries.
Jan-Joseph has produced two journalistic books: Welkom in Darfur, dit is ons leven (2009, co-auteur: Elwin Verheggen, Kit Publishers) and Blood Mobiles, Bloed mobieltjes, Coltan in Congo, 2011, Co-auteur: Seada Nourhussen, Africa Editor of Trouw, Kit publishers). His photos have been exhibited widely in European Galleries.
For the last ten years I have worked almost every year in the Eastern Congo. This project will allow me to express in more depth and with more intimacy many of the issues I have touched on with my journalistic assignments. Africa in general, has for a long time, been misrepresented. The image most of the people in the Western World have of Africa, and at the same of Congo, is a very dramatic and stereotypical one: one of hunger, war and misery. Following in the footsteps of Che is a vehicle to tell the story of Congo in a different way. My aim is to let the encounter happen on the way, and to give the Congolese a voice to reflect on their own country in their own way. At the same time, the project can attract an audience fascinated by the icon of Che Guevara, to a country they may never have considered before. The project will raise questions about the condition of Congo now and over the years, and allow reflection on ways for a better future.
During one of my journeys in Congo, I met someone who was listening to an audiobook about Che Guevara in Congo. Intrigued by this episode of the life of Che Guevara, I read Che Guevara's diary in Congo "African Dream". Unknown to many, this diary was kept secret until the late 90's by Cuba because the mission was considered to be a failure by the Cuban regime. What surprised me is that a lot of things described by Che in his diary of the Congo mission from the 1960's are still valid today. Many people know the journey Che Guevara took in South America, the famous Motorcycle diaries and many read his Bolivian diary. But very few people are aware of the fact that Che also travelled to Congo to try to start the revolution there. Che in his Congo diary describes the period from April 1965 to December 1965. From my own experience, I could identify with some of his descriptions. Why a country like this has been exploited for decades, why the Congolese have been victims – and survivors - of different occupations and discoveries, which instead of being their blessing became a curse.