One Grandmother for Everybody

So you didn’t have to worry if you never had one.
I was partly raised by my Grandma until I was in primary 5, unfortunately she didn’t live long to get photographed by her favourite grandchild, she actually named me (Papa), does that hint on how much was spoiling me? I dedicate this blogpost to her Life and all the grandmothers in the world.

African grandmothers will always have your back; they always get you covered! They will call you by every kind of sweet names, spoil you with way too many favors and would grant you as much edibles as you weren’t able to carry (then I started using my shirt as a basket). Tropical fruits for my childhood case, and grandmothers would always provide a place to hide until your Mama’s temper cooled down or even better would negotiate for your forgiveness. Way too many memories.


Abuba was one of those sweet grandmothers and she still is. (Abuba) is a Nubian word for Grandma, she is the only surviving elder of her generation in the whole village. Her parents were apart of a huge movement of Swahili speaking people who migrated from Tanganyika (present Tz) into Uganda via the Southern border of Uganda before 1900 and settled in Mbarara, at place that came to be known as ‘‘Kiswahili’’.





Just that you also know; In Africa, a child is raised by the whole village (community). Even though this tradition is fading away with time, it is still everyone’s responsibility to watch children’s behavior as they grow up. When we the 90’s kids were growing up, this was more like the (neighborhood watch), you would get your behind whipped, get reported to your parents or even disciplined you accordingly by anyone older than you. My European friends laughed at this and questioned me about who gives who authority, I bet this wouldn’t work in so many parts of the world.

Roundabout 180

Nyakaizi cell- Kakoba Round-about, this is a township that Abuba witnessed come into existence. She knows its stories, and this township knows bit of my childhood memories.

Well, Africa to the world.

Hamburg Sunset / Hafen city.


At Peace with Life, Mona Mour.

With peace from Nepal,

” I just returned after 9 month away from home and I have a culture shock, the lifestyle here isn’t meant for me, people think that I’m crazy”. “You see close your eyes, dont think about anything, give attention to your senses, feel your breath. You see people are afraid of closing their eyes, but you have to be at peace with your self” MONA just returned back to Germany from a 9 month stay in Nepal and India and she is a yoga fanatic.





“I’m not really good with being in front of the camera, can I smoke while we are doing this?”

Marteria at Southside Festival 2015.

Germany April 17th – Nov 17th 2015.

Marteria / Marsimoto at SouthSide 2015. Being a photographer and intern at Viva Con Agua e.v, has given me a path to restricted areas at festivals like artist villages, backstages, led me onto artist tour buses and to me this is special because Not everybody get this opportunity and treatment. With an estimated crowd of 80,000 people, South Side festival was just one of these experiences. Meet Marteria, a German rap sensational whose alter ago is MarsiMoto. I happened to move along with his personal photographer called Paul Ripke who also appears in the following presentation, Ripke is the guy behind most of Marteria’s images both stills and videos.

Who is Marteria? /

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Who is Marteria? /

“QUEENS IN ESSENCE, 2015-2020” Portraits of Nubian women from Kibera- Nairobi. A work of research and photography in progress.


Nub noun (a biblical term to mean Gold) / Nubian noun (plural Nubians) -An inhabitant of the ancient

Nubia or a person of Nubian descent.

Essence noun (plural essences)

  1. The inherent nature of a thing or idea
  2. A being; especially, a purely spiritual being.

“Queens in Essence” is a photography work my latest work, a project in progress that depicts Nubian women of East Africa as the “Queens that they really are” in relation to the present and their royal, rich ancient history (that only a few of them are informed about). The first series (Nairobi/April/2015) show portraits of Nubian female elders and young ladies from Kibra (Kibera) staged in a modern photo studio as they strictly dressed in Nubian wear.


After 12 BC, a series of Nubian Queens ruled Egypt. Queen Tiye (1415-1340 BC) was an intelligent and beautiful full black African married to King Amen Hotep III, one of world’s mightiest Pharaohs and conquerors of the time. Her son Akhenaton and his wife Queen Nefertiti are the parents of the young famous King “Tut” Tutankhamen.

Amen Hotep III dedicated several shrines to Queen Tiye and addressed her as (The most praised lady of Grace, the lady who fills the palace with beauty, Sweet in her Love, the Regent of North and south, the Great wife of King, the Lady of both Lands).

Queen Tiye wasn’t the only prominent Nubian queen. In 23 BC Roman soldiers attacked Nubia, the Nubian resistance was led by a Queen who scholars believe is Amenshekato who even negotiated a peace treaty. Matter of fact, “KUSH” (present areas of Ethiopia, Sudan) invaded Egypt and took over power for the 150 years. But why is the 25th Dynasty never talked about, in fact the Egyptian National museum has artifacts from all dynasties but they intentionally skipped the 25th simply because it was a period of black African rule.


Nubian bride’s wedding dress


Ms. Siyama is the Nubian cultural ambassador in Kenya, she is photographed posing with the Nubian “Kuta”. It is used to cover food.


Sudanese soldiers were incorporated into the British Army in the 1880s and brought to Kenya in the early 1900s. They served for the British army in the kings African rifles during World War I against the Germans, and in World War II in places like Somalia, Abyssinia, Madagascar and Burma. Nubians played a vital role in the defense of Kenya and the development of east Africa, unable to return to Sudan, the Nubians and their families remained in Kenya and in 1912, the British government designated some 4197 acres of land for the Nubians to settle on. In 1917, the British gazetted it as land for the Sudanese askaris and their dependents. The land was located outside of what would become the city of Nairobi. The Nubians named the land, Kibra, or ‘land of forest”

The British colonial government categorized tribes in Kenya and designated the ‘Kenyan tribes’ to live on land called ‘Native Reserves’. The Nubians were intentionally categorized as ‘Detribalized natives’ by the colonial government and not a tribe native to Kenya, which denied them the right to claim land on “Native Reserves”. Over the decades, this designation has been used to exclude the Nubians from Kenyan society as well as any rights to the land of Kibra. In 1955, only 3000 people, mostly Nubians lived in Kibra. Over the past 40years, hundreds of thousands of rural migrants have flooded into Nairobi seeking jobs and Kibra has been where they have been encouraged to settle. Eventually the Nubian village of Kibra would come to be known as kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa. Since Kenya’s independence, Kibera has been contested land. In 1971, a bill requiring the government to demarcate and title land parcels in kibera was passed yet was never implemented. Nubian claims to tittle deed for land in Kibera have never been recognized. Meanwhile, the hundreds of people living in kibera, including the Nubian community. Continue to be considered as squatters. Even though they settled on the land of kibera generations ago.



Having lived in Kenya for over 100 years, the Nubian community in Kenya has historically been denied recognition. Before Kenya’s independence, many Nubians carried British colonial passports and had birth certificates that stated their nationality as British. After independence, they have been one of Kenya’s most invisible and under-represented communities economically, politically and socially. Most of the Nubians weren’t recognized as citizens of Kenya after independence. Up until the most recent census conducted in mid-2009 the Nubian community was not a formally recognized tribe of Kenya. They were considered as ‘Other Kenyans’, or simply ‘Other’. Information compiled by Greg Constantine for the Nubians in Kenya project, website;

One of the elders that I interacted with.

On 3rd.5.2015 I completed my stay as Artist-In-Residence at Kuona Trust Art Centre in Nairobi-Kenya with a 1 day exhibition, on 15th.5.15 I also did a short presentation and exhibition of this project at 32° East in Kampala. At the end of 2015 I hope to officially release the complete Nairobi album of 25 portraits, audio podcasts and videos of Kibera/Kibra Nubian elders airing out wisdom. Im also working on exhibiting 10 selected photos from the project in some selected galleries around the world including 2 confirmed exhibitions in Germany. These portraits were produced during my 1month stay at Kuona Trust Art Centre in Nairobi as a prize after my project (Le Studio Boda-Boda) was chosen by the international jury as the winner of “New Talent Award” at the “Kampala Contemporary Art Festival / KLA ART 014” organized by

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With Love from Karamoja.

The Karimojong are nomadic warriors; they live and die for cattle, they occupy northeast region that borders Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia. I was blessed to interact with (thank gods they speak a bit of Kiswahili too) and photograph a group of female Karamojong elders while on a social work field trip with Viva Con Agua and Welt Hunger Hilfe on a clean water campaign to promote sanitation and hygiene in Moroto district ( North-Eastern Uganda). The portraits you are about to see were taken from one of the “Manyatta’s) / communal housing setup in Moroto.
© Papa Shabani photography 2014. All rights reserved. No rights granted unless in writing by Papa Shabani



What do you know?

School is good. what do you see? what do you think? How do you feel about this? The photo depicts 3 young school pupils on their way back home from school in the evening, I shot the photo in Buyende district on return from doing an assignment by AKVO Int’l on their global Akvo heros project. _MG_8184

Paper beads for a life.

A considerable number of young girls, ladies and mothers have been able to achieve sustainability through making of paper beads. I learn’t about the possibilities and the long term hard work involved in the process of rolling paper beads when I was contacted by a client to document and later shoot the final product. As I go further to build the story, here is a few shots for you to look at! Enjoy.

© Papa Shabani photography 2014. All rights reserved. No rights granted unless in writing by Papa Shabani





Future Primary School. School is Good

The last time I was in Eastleigh a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya is when i shot this photograph of a community kindergarten school predominantly for somalis. Eastleigh is located east of the central business district. Predominantly inhabited by Somali immigrants, it has been described as “Little Mogadishu“, as well as “a country within a country with its own economy” on account of its robust business sector. SONY DSC

Photo story of the month: Toy Soldiers (Patriotic)

On this day Uganda marks 52 years of liberation from British rule, on 9th Oct 1962 Dr. Milton Obote received the instruments of Independence. Presently, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni still stands as the longest serving president of the Pearl of Africa and he has tirelessly employed personnel to campaign and monitor the progress of Patriotism as an element of national glory, this led to the creation of the “National Patriotic Corps Uganda” (UPCU) an initiative/force that teaches the youth the virtues of loving one’s country. The work of this initiative is rooted in the earliest stages of school however this project is most popular in village Primary and High schools.

In celebration of Uganda’s independence day I present to you some of the faces of the “National Patriotic Corps Uganda” that I met at the National Theater of Uganda/ Uganda National Cultural Center .

Copyright: All photos by Papa Shabani, therefore you are not permitted to use them without written permission from the photographer. Thank you.


Junior (Poet) & Annet (creative dancer) are Cousins  and both go to Nyakasura School in Fort-Portal Kabarole district, Western Uganda.



Nabirye is a Form 2 student at Kaliro High School. Eastern Uganda.


Nabirye & her best friend Babirye Ritah. Both go to Kaliro High School.


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Muwereza, Bumusubire, Kibomba and Issha. All students at Kaliro High School.