Sarah Waiswa was born in Uganda in 1980. In 1999 she moved to the United States where she obtained a B.A in Sociology from Berea College followed by a MSc in Industrial and Organisational Psychology from Eastern Kentucky University. She worked in a corporate environment for a number of years before she decided to pursue photography on a full time basis. Waiswa’s curiosity about Africa’s emerging identity leads to her portrayal of the continent’s social issues in a modern and unconventional manner. She hopes to improve the perception of Africa by initiating conversations about challenges as they emerge. She currently lives and works between Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya.
Her current project is in collaboration with fellow photographer Joel Lukhovi, whose work has been recognised by The Guardian as representing a new wave of photojournalism that challenges stereotypes about the continent by showcasing a different aspect of Africa. They are working on a long-term project called African Cityzens where they travel by road across Africa investigating the difficulties encountered when attempting to reach various border crossings and navigating within the cities themselves. They are hoping to capture photographs that tell stories that will live for generations.
Stranger in a Familiar Land is a series that looks at the perception people have of people living with albinism specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, people living with albinism are hunted for body parts, with the belief that they possess magical powers. The series is set against the backdrop of the Kibera slums, which are a metaphor for Waiswa’s turbulent vision of the outside world. The series illustrates the life of a woman living with albinism who is forced to face challenges emanating from both the sun and society. Additionally it illustrates how the sense of not belonging has caused her to wander and exist in a dreamlike state. Waiswa won the prestigious Rencontres d’ Arles Discovery Award in 2016 for this work and this is awarded to photographers whose work has recently been discovered.
Waiswa was a second year fellow at the Goethe Institut’s Photographers Master Class in Nairobi, Kenya in 2017 and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2018. In 2018, she was also named a Canon Brand Ambassador and was selected for the World Press Photo 6×6 Africa Program. In 2016 she was awarded the Discovery Award in Arles, France. In 2015, she came first place in the story and creative categories in the Uganda Press Photo Awards and second place in the Daily Life and portrait categories.
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