“The greatest satisfaction has to be the ability to use my work to change the narrative about Africa,” says Ugandan photographer Sarah Waiswa. She and Kenyan artist Joel Lukhovi are currently on a once-in-a-lifetime photographic journey, documenting daily city life in all 54 countries of Africa over a period of five years.
The enormous trans-African art project, aptly named African Cityzens, will culminate in a multi-medium showcase motivated by the couple’s “bid to develop a body of work that will portray glimpses of Africa from a very contemporary point of view,” in the hopes of changing the traditional mzungu (an East African term for “white person”) perspective.
As they wander from place to place, Sarah and Joel tell a city’s story by manoeuvering their cameras to capture its hidden nuisances and happened-upon encounters with locals. They each lend their own style of photography to the project. For Sarah what’s important is finding the right light but as an artist with a background in engineering, Joel is “drawn to patterns and lines” in the composition of a shot.
The slice-of-life images have taken off on Instagram, garnering a large following of people who are wanting to share in the African Cityzens journey every step of the way. According to Sarah, “social sharing has increased our ability to access information about people and places, through different perspectives”. For Joel, “social media has really advanced and challenged the way in which Africa used to be viewed in the past”.