Katumba Badru | Kampala's Nudes Leak
East African Photography Award
In June 2021, the boisterous Mama "Kampala" was deprived of her identity, stripped naked of her people. Kampala's normal day is defined by two things: urgency and trade. Ordinarily the streets are crammed with hustlers and pedestrians; employees running late to work or trying to catch a taxi home, street vendors hawking bananas, limes gum or pirated music CDs. In the belly of the city at Mini Price, vendors peddle second-hand clothes, plastic shoes, Brazilian hair, and cosmetics, while being entertained by comedians and street performers.
If you wade along the narrow and congested lanes of downtown Kampala, you’d be wise to stay alert. There is an unwritten rule: be careful or a careless boda-boda will make you pay with your ribs. Tread carefully or your foot might squash someone's tomatoes. The city is characterized by humans, trading, trying, and connecting. All this stalled when COVID-19 reached in and took hold, triggering a harsh and total lockdown. I paid the nude city a visit in the middle of the lockdown, hoping to visually explore the contours of the city laid bare. Through my lens I stared at a shaming sight: a city devoid of her people, a city silenced by a virus the eyes cannot see.