From young lovers to old customs: Stunning photographs from East Africa

Stories from East Africa this year have often enraptured the rest of the continent and the world at large. For their scale, shock value, and capacity for inspiration. Photographers have captured many of these unfolding headlines. They have allowed people far and wide to remain aware of the ever-shifting world around them: in politics, security, family life, maternal health, or even just good old sheep-rearing.

The Uganda Press Photo Award (UPPA), conceived in 2012, promotes the best photography in the country and wider region. It rewards the brave professionals who often put themselves at risk for their images. Below are some of African Arguments’ favourite shortlisted photographs followed by the three winners of the Uganda Press Photo Award, East African Photography Award, and Young Photographers Award.

Carry On Tradition – Kuloba Peter Tera

15-year-old Olinga stands watch over a herd of sheep between the borders of Moroto and Kotido districts in north-east Uganda. Olinga is one of the Ngikarimojong teenage boys working on the kraal (the enclosure where a tribe’s herd of sheep is kept at night), giving up school for a nomadic life like his forefathers.

New-Utopia – Atiko Anthony

20-year-old Moses sifts through piles of refuse to pick what he can save and sell in order to buy himself some food. Moses has been doing this for the past four years. If he does not, he will go to sleep hungry. 

Pulled – Abubaker Lubowa

An armed police officer drags a man by his boxers for allegedly demonstrating after Qualicel and Nabukeera closed their shops. Traders were protesting over the closure of the shops after the landlord used welding to seal them off at night. The buildings were under contention over who rightfully owned them.

Downtown Kampala – Jim Nyakaana

Afternoon in downtown Kampala bustles with business and trade as people drift in and out going about their lives. Taken from a high point, the photo allows you to see many different modes of transport – taxis, private cars, boda bodas and pedestrians – revealing the typical busy-ness of this area of Uganda’s capital. 

The Strangle – Abubaker Lubowa

A police officer from Uganda’s Counter Terrorism Unit holds a demonstrator in a headlock outside parliament. The protesters are part of the ruling National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) youth organisations and wanted to forcefully enter parliament. They planned to directly petition the Speaker to argue that Ugandans know how to govern their own country best following a debate in the UK’s parliament about democracy in Uganda.

Mourning the Ethiopian Airlines Crash – Maheder Tadese 

On the morning of 10 March, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 took off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. Six minutes later, the Boeing 737-max plane crashed near the town of Mojo killing all 157 people on board. On 17 March, a funeral procession was held for the victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church in Addis Ababa. Families, friends and relatives of the deceased passengers and crew attended. 

DusitD2 Complex Attack – Daniel Irungu

On 15 January 2019, a large explosion and sustained gunfire sent workers fleeing for their lives at an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The attack, killing over 20 people was later claimed by Islamist extremist group al-Shabaab.

Uganda Press Photography Award: In Her Own WorldKatumba Badru Sultan

A young girl stands out amongst a large group of worshippers performing prayers on Eid al-Fitr at Uganda National Mosque, also known as Gaddafi Mosque. With the exception of children, Islam does not allow men and women to mix during prayers. 

East African Photography Award: Sifrash – Martha Tadeese

Tadeese had been on assignment for something else. She was in Maksegnit, Ethiopia, to document newly-born babies and the work and support of Health Centres. Here, she met a young couple Sifrash and Mar’eshet who did not have a steady income to raise their young daughter. She would eventually help raise money for the couple to build a shop and hopefully turn their fortunes around. 

Young Photographers Award: Immaculate Bashaba

Infertility often has a stigma attached to it. It is a taboo to speak about. In this image, the photographer captures “the dark and gripping emotion of her subject”, in the words of one of the judges.