In 1875 explorer Henry Morton Stanley (UK 1841-1904) produced a photograph of Kabaka (King) Muteesa of Buganda (UG, 1838-1884) and his chiefs. Muteesa’s land was positioned on the northern shore of a body of water that we now call Lake Victo-ria, in a country that would later be named after his kingdom. The three prints of Stanley’s photograph are part of a larger collection that was acquired by the King Baudouin Foundation. They are now in the collection of the Royal Museum for Cen-tral Africa in Tervuren, Belgium.
In Uganda, when I broached the subject of this important - in my opinion - historical photograph, almost no one seemed to know about it. But everyone had seen inter-pretations of the image.
An engraving based on the photograph of Kabaka Muteesa and his chiefs can be found in a book about Stanley’s journey through East Africa. Here, the faces of the men have been changed. They no longer look like Baganda (subjects of the king of Buganda). The king was, in Stanley’s observation, the light of Africa: a man one could depend on to develop the continent. I therefore assume that the men in the photograph were made to appear not so different from a white British man: the latter would then be able to identify with Muteesa and his chiefs. I consider this engraving to be a misinterpretation of the photograph. In addition, I take the relatively unknown status of the original photograph in Uganda to be symptomatic for the rather exclu-sive preservation of documents that matter to the African continent in the West.
I invited artists and art-students to make their own interpretations of Stanley’s photograph in an attempt to add multiple interpretations to the misinterpretation in Stanley’s book.
Camera and edit of ‘It’s Lukiiko Time’: R. Canon Griffin and Andrea Stultiens
Puzzling: Andrea Stultiens
Narration 1 with puzzle: Karis Upton reads Henry Byrne
Narration 2 with puzzle: Vasilis van Gemert’s reading
Scenario of the King’s pictures: Words and reading: Margaret Nagawa. Pictures (in order of appearance): James Augustus Grant, John Hanning Speke, Violet Lynus Nantume, Stella Atal, Henry Morton Stanley, Evelyn Tennant Myers, Dorothy Stanley Tennant, Fred Kato Mutebi, Nathan Omiel, Matt Kayem, Jacob Odama, Papa Shabani, Emmanuel Lwanga, Eva Ddembe, Fred Ndaula, Ronex Ahimbisbwe, Muki-za, Henry Mzili Mujunga, Eria (Sane) Nsubuga, Daudi Karungi, Ian Mwesiga, Piloya Irene, Timothy Erau, Wasswa Donald, Migisha Boyd (b40deep), R. Canon Griffin
|A film tracing the culturing biography one of the first photographs made in Uganda.
|Published - 25 sep. 2018