Dutch photographer Andrea Stultiens met Ugandan Kaddu Wasswa in 2008 through his grandson, photographer Arthur Kisitu. Born in 1933, Wasswa played a role in his community as a teacher and social worker. These days, Wasswa is a farmer and an HIV/AIDS activist, running an NGO from his home in the Mokono District. Throughout his life Wasswa has been documenting his activities. He started building his archive around the time Uganda was seeking its independence, writing novels, plays and essays, taking and collecting photographs. Additionally, the personal archive contains letters and newspaper clippings, often with added commentary.
Stultiens and Kisitu set out to explore Wasswa’s fragmented collection. She took photographs of the documents to which she added her own and Kisitu’s photos which were taken during their meetings. The resulting book is a creative postcolonial archive where both the collectors and the collection often appear within the same frame, thus avoiding an all too easy critique that inevitably comes with an outsider’s interest in dusty colonial libraries. Flipping through the photographed archive of photographs (because that is essentially what it is) it is hard not to become as curious as the two photographers in their mapping of Wasswa’s life and, through him, Uganda’s age of independence:
Here’s a video in which Stultiens tells us a bit more about the work:
And if you want to meet the man behind the archive, here’s a longer interview with both Stultiens and Kaddu Wasswa (it’s ok to cringe at some of the questions coming from the public):