Behind the Scenes of Our Social Media Photo Month

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June will be a month to savour on the Gorilla Highlands social media: each day will feature a richly explained photo moment from the heartbeat of Uganda and Rwanda. No matter whether you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest, you will find them under the #PulseofUgandaRwanda hashtag. Be social, our friends, and spread the love through sharing, liking, retweeting, repinning – let the world learn how fantastic our region is!

These photos won’t just randomly come from our digital libraries…

The exhibition on your screen(s) will be an offspring of what took place last month in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a European country slightly smaller than Rwanda.

The Ugandan embassy in neighbouring Italy sent Ronald Basiimwa, Gorilla Highlands delegated volunteer veteran Samo Ačko and the Faculty of Social Sciences asked Prof. Dr. Maja Bučar to speak at the opening on 3 May 2017. A colourful mix of students, Africans in Slovenia and Gorilla Highlands volunteers assured a pleasant kick-off. The photos still adorn the faculty walls and will stay there until October 2017.

The Gallery of the Faculty of Social Science offers opportunities to non-governmental organisations to showcase their work through photo exhibitions. The Gorilla Highlands initiative saw this as an opportunity to promote Uganda and Rwanda in the context of multimedia volunteering that targets the professions the faculty churns out. After two years of discussions, the work on Pulse of Uganda and Rwanda seriously began in early 2017.

The Gorilla Highlands team usually depends on online collaboration, so it was unique that the three participating photographers actually met in Kigali in mid March. Marcus Westberg, the professional photographer among the three, was back to the region for a surprise “second honeymoon” he organised for his Swedish parents, including climbing an active volcano in Congo. Anika Utke, an American volunteer coming through Carpe Diem Education, was in town hoping the authorities would allow a video shoot. For Enock Luyonza, Kigali is simply the hometown.

The Logar family then took over the technical side; Miha was pushing on the African continent and his father Joža, an architect, was in charge of setting the physical exhibition up. Simon Dreven from the Gallery kindly made the rest happen.

The configuration of the exhibition building determined three topical photo groups.

Enock Luyonza’s photos

The city of Kigali was photographed by Enock Luyonza. “Because of Rwanda’s dark history it is a rare spectacle to find people on streets dancing for dancing’s sake, but that is changing. It’s been said that Rwandans are reserved, closed people who prefer to keep everything to themselves. This is changing as new blood is fused into the community, new ways of living and expression are beginning to manifest,” Luyonza described one of his pictures.

Anika Utke’s photos

Anika Utke’s photos focus on volunteer life at Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda: “In my three-month volunteering experience, I grew to know the environment quite well, from the quiet misty mornings to the parade of dugout canoes on a market day. You could find yourself scaling a mountain one day to get the perfect shot and the next be working in your hut, curled up in a fuzzy blanket. In the photos displayed at the exhibition I tried to capture the volunteer experience from the ever-rotating cast of characters and assignments that I worked with.”

Part of Marcus Westberg’s photos

Marcus Westberg had the task of presenting the landscapes and peoples of the region. He says: “With each visit I’ve gotten to know the Gorilla Highlands region a bit better, adding more perspectives to its social, cultural, political, and environmental landscapes. Gorilla Highlands has a very special place in my heart, and each new photo – representing a new memory, a unique experience – adds to that, and has the ability to conjure up those memories in a heartbeat.”

Text by Miha Logar; exhibition photos by Miroljub Ignjatović, top photo by Anika Utke