Tag Archives: youth

A few small bananas

My third day in Nakivale, Uganda’s oldest refugee settlement, and feeling ready to move on tomorrow. Meanwhile my guide and translator, a film-maker and actor called Alex, is in his ninth year of living here. Some Rwandans I’ve spoken to have been here 16 years. Some mention those who were resettled in the US, Canada, Denmark; many have disappeared to try to make it in Uganda’s cities. Most people stay.

And they come. New arrivals — about 3000 each month — put the current number of inhabitants at 110,000. The population looks set to keep growing:  Uganda is receiving refugees from not one next-door crisis, but three: DR Congo, Burundi, South Sudan.

I’ve talked to maybe 20 people, some for five minutes, some for several hours. Olga, a warm young Congolese woman who has galvanised a group of her peers to start making and selling crafts, tells me in well-spoken French that life is better here for simple reasons: securité, liberté. We can do what we want. Many others are less positive. Yes, we could go and live elsewhere, but how can we afford to? Yes, we can set up businesses here in Nakivale, but how, without capital? Yes, we could buy better or cheaper goods from the cities, but who pays our transport there? Continue reading

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The teacher

Non-adults are also welcome

Non-adults are also welcome

Vincent travels about four hours by bus each way to teach an adult literacy class, getting little more than his expenses paid. He’s been doing this for over a year. Continue reading

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Making it work

Photo by Lawrence

First timers – photo by Lawrence

New project, new challenges.

Back in Kazo, the school was about 20 yards from my home; here, it takes a good hour and a half bouncing along the roads of some not-so-nice parts of Nairobi. The Kenyans I’m working with have zero experience of cameras (which also makes it a lot of fun), and I’m told we need to pay them something to compensate for a day of lost wages. And we have only four working days to do something meaningful.

At least this time, I’m not too surprised when we don’t start on time, or that attendance is somewhat, well, fluid. And since my expectations are lower – this is a bit of a trial, before a real (and funded!) project comes next year – it’s nice just to see where it goes. They seem to be enjoying it so far. Continue reading

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Land of opportunity

Impromptu interview with Erasto, a filmmaker who took me on a brief tour of Kibera.

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Slumming it

This morning, Okwiri and I go to Dandora. Many people know of Kibera, Africa’s second-largest slum. Dandora isn’t that big, but it looks pretty disgusting.

As for Kibera: I’d prepared myself for the worst. And of course, on a sunny mid-morning, the reality didn’t seem that bad. With hindsight, though, I realise what I’d been dreading were pushing crowds, aggression, shouting, feeling threatened. There was none of that.

The viewThat’s not to say it’s easy to live here. Continue reading

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No to nostalgia

RainWe finished the film, even with 4+ days without power; our main actor walking off set mid-scene; and people never turning up when they said they would. We screened it on my laptop in a dark classroom on my last evening in Kazo, to about 20 people, and it was kind of special to feel proud of something that I had not done: the guys had done virtually all the actual shooting, acting, editing.

But there’d been too little time (or energy, or electricity) to do all that I could/should have done. I could have done a camera class with the teachers and P2 class, could have helped Eliab with his CV, could have helped Godfrey with his dance website and Joseph with his exam prep, could have helped Shakul and Baker create flickr accounts, could have given Poul more time on my computer to play with Photoshop, could have done more editing with Daniel, could have taught Juliette how to use Excel and Word, could have made that brochure for Ronald, could have done more photo sessions with everyone, especially the latecomers, could have pushed further on the AIDS issue that was always sort of there but never properly discussed. I could have done more for so many good-hearted, courageous people. Maybe I need to come back.

Before the nostalgia sets in, I’d better remember the worst bits. Continue reading

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New Vision and the Thieves

_NewVision of the Thieves

There’s a whole story behind this photo that I don’t have, but what I do know is: this is the Local Council, a one-room building not far from Kazo Playground. The guy sitting down is the ‘Defence’.  The two young men being photographed, by a New Vision journalist, have been taken in (arrested?); their shirts are tied together. At first, I was told they were thieves. Later, someone said they were homeless and caught squatting.I never found out what they really did. Continue reading

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(Some) Action

Schedule We have 20 scenes to shoot in a week. After a slow start, I realised that my hands-off approach might be fine for actual filming, but it damn well wasn’t working for planning. We’ll see how my schedule works out.

There’d been a general sense of surprise at how much work was involved, and more interest in taking photos of each other wearing sunglasses. (Is that an age thing, a boy thing, or a Ugandan thing?)  It’s probably going to rain now, they said. We don’t have all the actors. They won’t let us film there. There’s no power.  It’s too expensive to print out the script. Continue reading

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Their best shots

First two photography sessions with two of the older girls, pictures taken with DSLR camera:

Annet-1 Continue reading

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On day 12

Studying

At Makerere University

Everything ran late, of course; the boys didn’t ask any questions; and we spent about four hours on I don’t know how many buses. But I think it was worth it.

First, we had to get the filming done – by now though, I can delegate most of it to the students, who get to practise focusing and close-ups while the schoolkids wiggle their little hips yet again to that same school song, grimacing worriedly at the camera because all the teachers keep commanding them to SMILE!

Next, to Makerere Art Gallery, inside the wonderfully peaceful grounds of one of the oldest universities in Africa. Continue reading

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