Ebifananyi 4 - Simuda Nyuma - Forward Ever Backward Never, 2015
Ebifananyi 4 is based on illustrations that were never made. They were described by Baganda Chief Ham Mukasa to illustrate a trilogy he wrote about three of his Kings and their times. Within the framework of the documentation of documentation of Mukasa’s life the idea of what an image is in a specific cultural context and the issues of translating through time, cultures, continents and media is taken up by a group of Ugandan artists and Dutch and Ugandan art students, leading to a both visually rich and thoughtful consideration of depictions of history. The work responds to the question of how you imagine a history for which no images exist, and whether you can even comprehend something that is outside of your frame of reference.
"A lot can happen in a lifetime.
During Ham Mukasa's, that began around 1870 and ended in 1956. Christian missionary activities - and with it promotion of literacy - arrived in his home-land. Religious wars were fought. An agreement was signed making the territory now known as Uganda into a protectorate that was part of the British empire.
Ham Mukasa himself was an early literate. His people knew him as 'the scholar who never went to school'. Mucks narrowly escaped martyrdom and fought in the religious wars. He was close friends with missionaries and other colonials. He was also close to the Kabaka and the personal secretary to Sir Apolo Kagwa, the prime minister of Buganda. He married, lost his wive and remarried. Fourteen children were born out of the two marriages. Two of them started the Ham Mukasa Foundation that aims to 'gather all the ancestors in the Ham Mukasa heritage, keep the history, work together in events and any other ceremony it may be'.
A lot can happen in three years.
From not being aware of the existence of a famous Mugabda chief. To taking on the task of digitising the photographs in the family collection. To finding in the photographs in the family collection. To finding in the collection a document inspiring this book. The five sheets of paper had descriptions of images on them, meant to illustrate the book triptych 'Simuda Nyuma' authored by Ham Mukasa. The books are about three Baganda Kabakas and their times. The first book was published in Luganda in 1938. Without illustrations.
I started to treat the list as an open invitation to engage with history. Both artists and students agreed that it was interesting to think about the descriptions and make the images."
Andrea Stultiens, Introduction for Ebifananyi 4.