Ebifananyi 1 - The photographer - Deo Kyakulagira, 2014
The noun Ebifananyi (which is the plural, singular is Ekifananyi) comes from the verb Kufanana, and means to be similar to. It is the Luganda word not only for drawings, or paintings or photographs, but for every two dimensional likeness. Ebifananyi is also the title of the series of at least four publications by History In Progress Uganda (HIPUganda). Each book will start from one photo collection in Uganda and explore its narrative possibilities in images supported by words.
When HIPUganda was initiated by Andrea Stultiens and Rumanzi Canon its first aim was to digitize photographic material in Uganda to prevent the loss of its content that is often threatened by challenging conservational circumstances. But since both Andrea and Rumanzi are image makers themselves and not archivist or conservators, the idea was also to create possibilities to engage with the digitized material. Archives are dead until their content is handled by people connecting it to their reality in one way or the other. Ebifananyi presents the results of engagement with archives by the HIP initiators and a wider circle of Ugandans in compelling stories and beautifully designed and printed books.
Deo Kyakulagira (1940-2000) lived for his family and photography. He operated several studios, among which Central Art Studio Ltd. from the early 1970s until his untimely death in 2000. He worked for the ministry of agriculture and for the department of medical illustration of Mulago Hospital.
Deo Kyakulagira did not exhibit his work during his lifetime. Like many of his colleagues he was not recognised as an author for the work he did. A wonderful series of self portraits made in various dark rooms and studios shows the pride Kyakulagira took in his work and justifies his late recognition as an artist.
In Ebifananyi I the reader gets to know Deo Kyakulagira through the likenesses he produced of himself, and the way he documented the world around him, partly as a father, partly as a professional photographer. Stories told by family members and others remembering Central Art Studio Ltd give an idea of the context in which Central Art Studio ltd operated and developed when Deo Kyakulagira ran it.