DeLovie Kwagala is the winner of this year’s East African Photography Award. His series Through the Cracks depict intimate partner violence in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Kwagala is a non-binary, queer, self-taught photographer and social activist from Kampala, Uganda, and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. In their words: ‘A queer project to be winning means the world to me. It means that our stories are finally being heard and our voices are finally being given a platform that we so very much deserve. My project is about intimate partner violence, which is a huge issue ravaging through the queer community. I hope that by highlighting and acknowledging the importance and urgency of this issue to the community that we will be able to source out resources to go to people who need support the most and create a platform to speak about it and be heard. We need to act now.’
Kwagala is not the only winner from the African continent. There are also recently awarded writers David Diop (International Booker Prize), Abdulrazak Gurnah (Nobel Prize for Literature), Boubacar Boris Diop (Neustads Prize), Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Goncourt), Tsitsi Dangarembga (PEN Pinter Prize), Paulina Chiziane (Camões Prize) and Damon Galgut (Booker Prize).
This is the irony. The works of all these creatives confront viewers and readers with often deeply disturbing realities, with hardship and despair. But they also show compelling imagination, thorough understanding and tempting attraction. They do not need to be given a voice, as many philanthropists and saviours still preach. Their free voices are heard, more and more. By telling their stories they open up our minds and empower all who feel a desire for change.