Yellow carpet

Yellow. This is the scene we have been working on. Just a by the way. Its the flowers that blossom from the branches facing the skies. Dark and pale as they look. And still the wonder of nature lives with us. Having little to say but just to watch.

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Two months have passed now as the expanding carpet of flowers still sits on the floor of earth. They get sucked into the earth one by one. I see the essence of being a part of this downward movement. Right from the sky to the ground.

Its the time to create this. Now and in future. Probably popping fresh occasionally .

Photography & Text | lukhovi.com

 

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Hawking Vibe

City of Nairobi

Hawking as a survival strategy for the urban poor in nairobi. Nairobi is facing momentous challenges after years of neglect by poor leadership and governance.

street vendor

A street vendor walks past a pedestrian with his merchandise from river road, Kiambu road.

At four o’clock the temperature has dipped enough to break the camp in the city. I clear the dust and sweat from my face and start walking, studying the area around me for a moment. I have to be precise and get the right angle to start my activity within 200m by 200m space. Its the Globe round about, close to the Nairobi fire station.

fire stationSome of the biggest challenges facing urban centres in Kenya today is how to tackle the issues of unemployment, through the provision of viable areas for self-employment opportunities as well as improving the quality, standard of living and infrastructure. The urban spaces are not designed to empower people or provide vibrant places where opportunities for small entrepreneurs and informal activities can trade and manufacture at viable locations.

taking positionNairobi is faced with the challenge of trying to deal with hawkers within their Central Business District (CBD). In most of the cases hawkers have not been allocated space to operate from. Though ignored by planners and harassed by the Local Authority enforcement officers, the hawkers within urban centres, have tended to acquire and control space informally. The situation in the CBD of Nairobi has reached a critical stage.

Hawkers run away from the city council askaris after they appeared from the vicinity.

Hawkers run away from the city council askaris after they appeared from the vicinity.

This raises critical questions about who has the role to designs cities and what procedures do they have to go through. What are the empowering agencies and laws? What role do these assign to hawking and street vending activities? I believe it should not just be about harassing the hawkers but at least being able get the right policies that drive the society.

runawayThe elements of power, control over space and the conflicts that emerge with regards to urban space utilization. This stem in part from the fact that most planning projects are implemented with missionary zeal (to remove hawkers from the CBD) and bear little reference to hawkers’ needs and priorities.

Matatus hekd up in traffic along Tom Mboya street as the city askaris engage the hawkers in a street battle.

Matatus hekd up in traffic along Tom Mboya street as the city askaris engage the hawkers in a street battle.

The short term recommendations are change of altitude and Nairobi city council recognizing the potential of hawking in generating revenues and also providing employment. Improving the infrastructure that are in place to try and harmonize the operation of both the formal activities and the hawkers.

Order has to be restored in the city to have a proper way of doing business.

Order has to be restored in the city to have a proper way of doing business.

Also the idea of allocating traders sufficient trading spaces and providing mechanism for the hawkers to be represented in decision making and lastly reviewing the rules and regulations that hinder the development of the activity.

Photography and text:: Joel Lukhovi

Photographs for Africa: Ethiopia

Many reasons combined made me make the choice of wanting to visit Ethiopia. Indeed, it is one of the most beautiful countries, I have had the finest opportunity of traveling to. Beautiful and kind people, big churches, very big roads and wonderful natural scenarios including the famous Blue Nile.

orthordox church

My first stop was in Addis Ababa, thats the Amharic meaning for New Flower. First, you get to ride on line taxis. Line taxis are, as I said, is a convenient and inexpensive way to get around Addis Ababa. Most rides cost either between 2-5 birr. Line taxis are minivans with sliding doors on one side; they hold maybe 12 to 15 people. Most of them are blue and white and are easy to identify, and there are hundreds of them on the roads, weaving in and out of traffic.

The view of Addis Ababa from the surrounding hills.

The view of Addis Ababa from the surrounding hills.

They have a conductor, usually a young man or boy, who pops his head out of the window or gets off at stops and shouts the name of the destination. When I first arrived I had no idea what the conductors were saying, because they speak Amharic so rapidly. Amharic on the other hand is a very charming language, but the phonetics and the pronunciation kept challenging me several times thou in the end i was able to construct a proper full length sentence.

Line taxi navigating the crazy traffic snarl up within the capital of Ethiopia.

Line taxi navigating the crazy traffic snarl up within the capital of Ethiopia.

Well, when I first arrived in Addis I was cautious to take any line taxi. I’m not sure why, maybe I was concerned about being self-conscious as a conspicuous foreigner; then there was the fear of getting on the wrong line taxi and ending up lost in a strange new country place. Over time i have developed the habit of using public means to move around the city whenever i travel. I believe this is rather the best way to tour a new place and get to interect with the locals on a one on one basis. I’m addicted to using public means, and while in Ethiopia, I looked forward every day to my line taxi trips. Every one of them is an experience.

woman buying maize in one of the taxi

So what’s so wonderful about squeezing into a packed line taxi for an hour every day, bumping your head half the time when you get on or off, having sometimes to squat on a small wooden block inches off the floor if there’s no room on the real seats, or scrambling with six or seven other people, aiming to be the lucky one who gets on when a line taxi approaches the stage, with room for just one more?

bajaj

I can only say that my experiences with line taxis combine learning about Ethiopia, Ethiopians and Ethiopian culture, having simple yet poignant human interactions that are precious and noticeably less common in other societies.  Getting to see street life and scenes of Addis through the taxi window, and picking up new words of written and spoken Amharic amongst the passengers.

enroute to bahir dar

As I mentioned previously, written Amharic is based on “consonant-sound” combinations that make up a syllabary, which is akin to an alphabet but has well over two hundred characters. The more you mingle among Ethiopian people, the better you learn this fascinating and elegant language. Like a child, I got to learn the syllabary slowly. I kept looking frequently at street signs, food and drink labels, posters, and stickers on the walls and windows of line taxis, carefully trying to pronounce the words. I listen to locals speaking, and I ask, when I’m in stores or cafes, for the shopkeeper or waiter to pronounce the word for bread or milk or potato for me. This was the only way for me to get to learn this beautiful language.

This is one of the methods that i got to learn amharic language.

This is one of the methods that i got to learn amharic language.

If I know an Amharic phrase or word, I practice it, encouraging feedback as praise or correction. Many shop signs have both Amharic and English words together, equivalent to an Amharic-English dictionary, with instant translation. I translated the sounds of characters from the word that was on the letter-head.

One of the meandering roads that drives through to the blue nile.

One of the meandering roads that drives through to the blue nile.

Basically, that’s another reason to love Ethiopia, at least if you’re a foreigner: you get the chance to learn first hand a new, inspiring, fascinating language, from the best teachers of all- local Ethiopians. And what better way to learn it than to live, dine  and breathe among wonderful people who smile when they hear you speak Amharic and are always patient and willing to help you improve.

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There are thirteen months of the year in the Ethiopian calendar: 12 months each with 30 days and a final “month” with five days, or six in a leap year. It can therefore claim to be a capital city with “thirteen months of sunshine.” During the weeks I had arrived there was a rainy season, in Addis, Debre Markos, Bahir Dar, Gondar and Aksum. Despite the wet season, there is  plenty of sunshine between downpours, thou it can be very cold during the night and day as well.

young Habesha girl and boy trade maize for school fees.

Young habesha girl and boy trade maize for school fees.

I think of the excesses that many people have in the world, yet they often don’t enjoy or appreciate them; I’m reminded of how there is so much strife for monetary wealth. To quote the words of my mother, a kind woman who never had much material wealth, and who would give the last penny in her purse to a needy neighbour, “You didn’t bring any money with you into the world and you’re not going to take any with you when you leave.”

Amhara boys covering themselves away from the cold.

Amhara boys covering themselves away from the cold.

Sure, terrible poverty does not breed happiness, but then material excess is not the key either. Somewhere between the two extremes, the Havenots and Havelots, there is a place where the Havegots dwell with contentedness, tolerance, a sense of belonging, humour, compassion and humanity, without greed, prejudice, misguided strife, animosity or arrogance; where the true jewels of life are valued;

bahir dar bus terminal

main trading point in badir dar close to the lake tana.

Where there is no greed or selfish exploitation of others, and where the goal for everyone to make life better for everybody else. Knowledge, humility and humanity constitute the currency that makes people truly rich, and the more of these they have and spend, the wealthier they, their children and the society around them become.

beautiful landscape. A blessed country.

A beautiful landscape en route to Addis from Gondar. A blessed country side.

One of my observations was basically, how the ethiopian people and culture is so inter twined that they assist each other whenever a problem arises. During my 13 hour trip from Bahir dar to Addis, I did not fail to realize how the passengers in the mini bus i was traveling in, began contributing money just to offer to the road side monasteries that were up in the hills.

Sudan Ethiopia border

Sudan – Ethiopia border.

This is a common thing that they get to do always when traveling, since it brings more blessing s to them and their journey as well. Generally Ethiopian have a culture of giving and thats what i admired amongst all the things that i got to observe during my stay. I really liked Gondar and was amazed that Ethiopia still has its history intact, 400 years now. Emperor Fasilidas empire and palace still stand at Gondar which was the capital of ethiopia in 1636.

gondar

Emperor Fasilidas main capital of control in the early 1636. 400 years plus and it still stands strong.

Back to the cost of living in Ethiopia, you can eat a tasty main course Ethiopian injera meal in a very reasonable restaurant and have two Meta or Saint George beers to go with it for less than 4 dollars, or have a cup of the best coffee you ever tasted, along with a gigantic piece of invitingly seductive white forest cake, for less than a dollar.

Entrance to the main castle and palace.

Entrance to the main castle and palace.

I must mention that Ethiopia indeed was amazing and am looking to paying another visit to this wonderful country soon if not later.

Photographs for Africa

Photography:  Joe Lukhovi

Stone Town – A shared history

As soon as I set my foot in Zanzibar island, I could just feel the unending joy and passion of what this town had to offer. The fantastic weather and the wonderful people truly charmed my heart.

The main means of transport in Zanzibar. It allows easy movement of commuters in the small streets.

The main means of transport in Zanzibar. It allows easy movement of commuters in the small streets.

It soon came to my notice about the traditional culture that this island holds. The people, mode of transport, food and the white sandy beaches that reflected the magnificent sun that sets each and every day slowly across the western horizon, ushering in a night full of rejuvenated energy and action. This is the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Stone Town.

performance As I later came to understand, this was my very first 16th ZIFF 2013 film festival and as a creative, I was looking forward to documenting the unfolding events at the venue. My camera on my neck and sandals, I kept moving across the town collecting moments that would cover entire stay at the island. I wanted to scream to the world about the joy of the town and the ever traditional culture.

Common means of movement in the island.

Common means of movement in the island.

Despite the trends in modernity that the world has aspired to get to, and the thousands of people that visit the island, there is one thing that stands in Zanzibar, and that is the swahili tradition that the islanders have kept all along. Many people from varying nationalists all over the world visit Zanzibar, but what stands out is the magnificent culture, that the community holds.

A boat sailing back to the port after a day of work.

A boat sailing back to the port after a day of work.

Stone Town, Zanzibar it was then. I have to mention in a few but the craze of writing will keep this text going for a while. The atmosphere was wanting for the Zanzibar Internatonal Film Festival initially known as the Dhow festival. At its 16th year, the festival has indeed remained to be one of the biggest art and film festivals that is dominating the East and Central African region. I must say that am greatly honored having been a part of the ZIFF 2013 as a photographer.

mvuvi

Excitement is in the air with the ongoing Zanzibar International Film Festival, thousands of people around town are visiting locations to view the film screenings, attend workshops and be a part of the total Film and Cultural experience that ZIFF 2013 offers.

an hour and a half. I kept getting a long exposure of the ship that docked at the port.

An hour and a half. I kept getting a long exposure of the ship that docked at the port.

Children naturally grow up wanting to be like their parents, and some actually do. Children of actors becoming actors, children of musicians becoming musicians, and I’m sure there are some children of accountants who become accountants. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) but one thing that normally stands out is the fact that art is the driving force of the society.

This snake charmer amazed the crowd during the ZIFF award ceremony at the amphitheatre.

This snake charmer amazed the crowd during the ZIFF award ceremony at the amphitheatre.

One of the staples of the ZIFF is the festival’s amphitheater screenings which brings together viewers and selected films in the industry to discuss their craft and offer inside insights on what it is like to be a working director, screenwriter, actor, or composer. It was an interesting show with the East Africans and the rest of the world sharing the experience of composing for films while a couple had avoided some of those studio pressures to pave their own way through the industry.

Sunset at the indian ocean in Zanzibar.

Sunset at the indian ocean in Zanzibar.

Most of the actions took place at the old Fort that acted a while back as the main arena for bringing people together and admire art. I made my way further, just across at the Forodhani public space, which is the main food court that residents come to get food. Apart from ZIFF which came to a closure on the 7th, I was able to capture some images that tell the story of Zanzibar from an artist’s impression. I cannot wait to do another visit.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Photography: Joel Lukhovi

Laba Street Art Fest

Its Kampala, Uganda and its the Laba!

laba street fest

The show was amazing and the people full of energy. I wanted to post this images while in Uganda, but time was not on my side with the tight schedule of events I had on me. Above all, the travel in Uganda was worth it and i cannot shy away to say and thank all the wonderful people that hosted me while in this beautiful country.

sekolliville

But here are some of the images I thought might interest you the viewers across all the corners of the world.

drum beating

With its motto “Open Studio”, the LaBa ArtsFestival ’s seventh edition aim was to give visitors the opportunity for a look behind the scenes, in the art making process. The process of artistic production is important here, not just the finished product.

face piercing

But the creative bunch of around 60 individual artists were merely not working while the others can watch them, but engaged the public in their projects, designed just for the day.

fashion parade

The organizers added the element of the fashion parade that attracted a huge crowd of participants including the above models who chose to include the dog in the parade. A lot of glamour and passion for fashion.

dancing up

These men choose to have an installation of the big balls moving up and down in the air as they kept moving. Its an art group from the region of Kampala. I basically tried to understand their installation but somehow i got lost. Above all, the group impressed the people who came over.

malkia

Her performance was full of energy and moved the crowd to the top. I wish i had a better way of elaborating this but the image will do the talking for me.

say whatShe marveled and charmed the crowd all the way from the start to the end. Uganda has got talent indeed and this was only happening at the Laba street art festival.

lets take a moment

The music stage featured newcomers and some of Uganda’s finest artists of various music genres, adding on to the general diversity of the festival – Mackinnon Road which remained closed for the rest of the day was both dream, glamour and dance.

reggae queen

Her name is Efi and she is full of wonders and passion for her artistic gift. She was the Mcee as well as a musician who is full of determination.

over her

I love this photo. Not for because some awesome moment at a concert. It’s just a clean, sharp picture and that was really hard to get at the greatly crowded place that rarely allowed me to move around at the venue.

the end
The end of the show came, hours after midnight and it was time for me to say goodbye. I hope to photograph the next Laba street art festival and am more than excited to all the wonderful people I got to interact with. Blessings

Photos: Joe Lukhovi

Location: Kampala, Uganda

Literary photograph

I woke up this morning to heavy fog in Masaka town, during my international art residency in Uganda and the feeling was totally exciting. Felt like part of my life was starting all over again. Here are a couple of images i decided to take within a snap and share with the world about this feeling.

Landscape photography always brings a lot of adventures and wonderful sceneries around the world.

Landscape photography always brings a lot of adventures and wonderful sceneries around the world.

The sun was just minutes away from rising up and I felt the contrast of the clouds and the glowing sunlight would just make a perfect shot for the occasion.

Landscape photography means to capture the beautiful places that have been with out any doubt created by God.

Landscape photography means to capture the beautiful places that have been with out any doubt created by God.

Now this is always a difficult one and I’ve spent a good while trying to work out which images represent something about me rather than just about the things I have found or the light that I saw them in. This is a little strange as they aren’t always necessarily my ‘best’ photographs but I’ve added a little text to each one.

misty morning

Am motivated by an appreciation of the beauty of the natural environment and a desire to see it preserved.

Land may be desert, mountain, plain, ridge etc. For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces. Landscape photography is proposed to show special spaces within the world, sometimes enormous and never-ending, but other times tiny.

Photography ::  Joe Lukhovi

Camp Ndegeya

Hey, so my second day at Weaver bird community for arts welcomed me with some of the amazing scenaries that I got to meet. Am hoping to have a wonderful moment and stay in this wonderful town of Masaka in Uganda, as I work on shaping my photography.

my bodaboda is an art installation at camp ndegeya.

My bodaboda is an art installation at camp ndegeya.

Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant, you know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on ant auto-pilot with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there.
ndege ya akili
All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?” “Credit or debit?” “ant or art” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw, I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me.
My seating postion at the community arts village.

My seating postion at the community arts village.

I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be an ant, you know?
Photography:: Joe Lukhovi
Location:: Ndegeya village, Masaka- Uganda