From untold LGBT+ stories to water everywhere: photos from East Africa
Last year, a deathly virus stopped the world in its tracks. Things may be moving a little (cautiously) now, but the pandemic is still with us. Complicating that concern are the effects of climate change: flooding in one end of the world, desertification in the other, sometimes both in the same country. Sometimes concerns are more intimate and close to home: violence between partners. Sometimes there is no immediate cause for wringing hands or furrowing the brow.
For the tenth year in a row, the Uganda Press Photo Awards recognises the image-makers documenting, archiving this rich breadth of our lives from the egregious to the ordinary.
Below is a special selection of African Arguments’ favourite photographs from the shortlisted entries, followed by the three winners of the Uganda Press Photo Award, East African Photography Award, and Young Photographers Award.
Aging by the Water – Stuart Tibaweswa
Vincent Sentamu, 58, tests a mukene (silverfish) trap that he has prepared. He started working as a fisherman at Nakaziba landing site, Mpigi, in 1981. Now the owner of a boat and fishing nets, he employs younger fishermen to do the work for him while he remains on dry land.
Nalubaale Takes Over – Edgar Kanyike
The remains of Mulungu beach are pictured after rising water levels on Lake Nalubaale, also known as Lake Victoria, submerged large areas of shoreline, including this beach and its village. The community in Mulungu was previously a very vibrant space of houses and businesses and was home to a lifestyle that had existed on the shores for years. The heavy rains of 2020 caused water levels in the lake to rise, slowly eating away at the land until Nalubaale had completely taken over the community of Mulungu.
Kampala Floods – Nicholas Bamulanzeki
A man carries a police officer through a flooded street near the Clock Tower roundabout in downtown Kampala after a heavy downpour on the 11th of September 2020. The cost of a trip across the water is 5,000 UGX ($1.25) and business is brisk.
Flag Off – Abubaker Lubowa
Denis Ssenono is dragged by riot police to Nalufenya police station in Jinja district for protesting the arrest of Kyagulanyi Robert, popularly known as Bobi Wine, on November 18th 2020. Mr. Kyagulanyi was arrested in Luuka district in Eastern Uganda by security officials for allegedly flouting the ministry of Health SOPs on COVID-19. After two days in detention Mr. Ssenono, one of the candidate’s entourage, was charged alongside many other opposition supporters arrested the same day.
Powering the ‘Ghost Town’ of Rusinga Island – Anthony Ochieng Onyango
Growing up on Rusinga Island, Kenya, my family and I enjoyed the majestic views of the enormous lake. When the sun sets, the lake comes to life in a whole new form, with small yellow lights appearing all over the water’s surface like a town that disappears with the new day. This is why we call it the ‘Ghost Town’. This sea of lights is actually a trap, deployed by fishermen to attract and catch the delicious silverfish locally known as ‘Omena’…But impacts of climate change, such as increased water levels of the lake, increases in temperature, and changes in rainfall patterns – combined with overfishing and ongoing pollution of the lake – significantly affect the fish species.
Kampala’s Nudes Leak – Katumba Badru
In June 2021, the boisterous Mama “Kampala” was deprived of her identity, stripped naked of her people. Kampala’s normal day is defined by two things: urgency and trade. Ordinarily, the streets are crammed with hustlers and pedestrians; employees running late to work or trying to catch a taxi home, street vendors hawking bananas, limes gum, or pirated music CDs. All this stalled when COVID-19 reached in and took hold, triggering a harsh and total lockdown.
Heroes of the Ghost War – Amanuel Sileshi
This body of work sheds light on the brave medical teams combating COVID-19 pandemic round the clock, in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia. It documents the constant work by medical personnel in a fight that is beyond the ability, capacity, or expertise of any one individual.
East African Photography Award: Through the Cracks – DeLovie Kwagala
“While many structures have formed to counter the constant barrage of violence directed towards the LGBTIQ community from the outside, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is an internal subject that is left largely unaddressed within the community. The frequent rejection of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation by families and broader society results in victims suffering in silence within these relationships, while public health campaigns by government and non-governmental organizations targeting intimate partner violence are often directed at cis-gendered heterosexual persons. LGBTIQ individuals fall through the cracks due to their exclusion from the messaging.
This means that members of the community do not always accurately identify their experiences as being abusive or requiring intervention. The possibility of access to services for support and shelter is further limited due to fears of secondary victimization by the same service providers that are meant to safeguard groups vulnerable to violence. Victims who do not fit the norm struggle in isolation, sometimes because the perpetrator doesn’t fit society’s imagined profile of a domestic abuser.
The global coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown brought about an increase in incidences of domestic violence, including within queer domestic spaces, while the limitations brought about by the pandemic in terms of commercial enterprise and movement meant that many people did not have much of a choice, being compelled to stay with their abusers to wait the lockdown out.
These images speak their owners’ truths without them being shamed, erased, silenced, invalidated, or cancelled because a human that they love(d) and trusted became a site of violence, leaving them scrambling through the cracks.”
– DeLovie Kwagala
Names have been changed because of the stigma and shame around the topic.
Uganda Press Photo Award: Winnowers of Hope – Joseph Muhumuza
“A group of women sieve leftover rice husks outside a mill in Mbale, Eastern Uganda, in search of overlooked grains that have not been gathered. By re-sieving the mill’s chaff, the women gather enough rice to feed their families. Rice, a delicacy that is only eaten on special occasions in some rural areas, costs a little more than most other foodstuffs on the market.”
– Joseph Muhumuza
Young Photographer Award – Timothy Akolamazima
This award is geared towards passionate photographers in the early stages of their careers and working within documentary photography, who would benefit from the tools and support to realise their vision as storytellers. Timothy is a graduate and holder of a BSc. in Population Studies. He will have the opportunity to develop his project further and exhibit his work during UPPA 2022.