The winners of the third annual eLearning Africa Photo Competition have been announced! The competition was stiff: 83 eligible entries were received and thousands of votes cast by the eLearning Africa audience. Let us introduce you to the three budding photographers based in Sudan, Uganda and Ghana whose remarkable photos capture the essence of how ordinary people are using ICTs to inspire innovation.
Thirty-three year old Siddig Hamza’s entry “ICT and eLearning for all” won him a Canon PowerShot S95 Digital Camera. He says, “ICTs are not used extensively in Sudan, but it’s something we are working on correcting by adapting the school curricula to meet the demands of the 21st century.” An electronic engineer by training, Hamza, also teaches at technical secondary schools in his native Sudan and has recently completed a Master’s Degree in Vocational Pedagogy in Norway. Although his work has a scientific bent, he has nurtured his artistic talent since childhood, he says, and from painting and drawing, he has branched into amateur photography. “Finding the time and tools is challenging, but I find a picture can play a role in imparting knowledge and ideas. In many Sudanese cities, people do indeed have access to ICTs, so these should also be used for educational purposes,” he urges.
The picture that captured the eLearning Africa 2012 Photo Competition judges’ attention was taken during the 2010 Christmas holidays when Hamza had returned home for a spell of fieldwork. He was visiting a friend and happened to come across a motley mix of people gathered before a laptop computer, laughing at a video depicting the humorous behaviour of Sudanese villagers who find themselves in the bright lights of the big city of Khartoum. “When villagers go to large cities for schooling, medical treatment or just for leisure, they are overawed by the pace of life and the technological developments of which they are usually unaware, and over the last decade or so, a comedic culture has developed around their experiences. They are able to laugh at themselves and to see the lighter side of life, and I was fortunate to be able to capture just such a moment.”
The picture was not posed, Hamza says, and he just happened to see the inspiration of that moment. “ICTs have inspired innovation in education, industrial progress and communication. While there remains much work to be done in many countries, particularly Sudan, we have to take action and use these ICTs as a tool for social change,” he concludes.
Silver second place
A Sony DCR-SX45EB SD Camcorder is on its way to 31 year-old Ernst Suur, a Programme Advisor at War Child Holland’s Uganda outpost. His photo “Disability isn’t inability” is centred on James, one of many young people making video diaries showing how War Child Holland is changing the lives of the youth in war-torn northern Uganda. Through the project, young victims of war are able to gain the vocational training and skills they need to become self-employed. The theme of the eLearning Africa Photo Competition resonated with Suur whose work on global ICT and media projects makes him at home using ICT and new media as tools of outreach and innovation.
He says, “Listening to those who have benefitted from the War Child projects helps us to improve the quality of our programmes. War Child Holland has presented at the last two eLearning Africa conferences, and next year we hope to do this again. I would like to present the project behind this picture myself as I have never attended.” Whilst he is looking forward to taking to the stage at eLearning Africa in Namibia, one thing he isn’t staging any time soon is a photo, he says. “I’m not one to use posing in my photos. I believe that good pictures should be spontaneous, so I like to simply capture what I see before me.” His advice for those new to this craft is, “Screen through your pictures and critique each one on its ‘story-telling-strength’. Learn more about Suur’s endeavours on his Twitter stream @ErnstSuur.
Third place pride
Imrana Buba is the proud new owner of a Samsung Galaxy Y S5360 Smartphone which will surely come in handy the next time he’s out and about in Potiskum, the small town in Yobe State, Nigeria from which he hails. However, it was in nearby Amshi village that he took the photo “Hallelujah!!! ICT in agriculture”. It shows a young vegetable farmer who has just received an order for him to supply five baskets of vegetables at a nearby market. The young man whose smile proved irresistible to the judging panel is Buba’s cousin, Ya’u. “Getting him to pose was not difficult because he is an easy-going guy. I always prefer to come very close to the person or object I want to snap, instead of zooming. In taking this photo, I wanted to show the world how ICTs are changing the life of villagers in Africa.”
Although his portfolio includes a substantial number of photos centred on the themes of poverty and the wonders of the natural world, it turns out most of Buba’s photos depict ICTs in one guise or another. “I have taken photos of how ICTs are used in agriculture, education, administration and most importantly how ICTs create thousands of jobs: from the cyber café business and mobile phone repairs to GSM recharge card sales and so forth,” he says. At present, photography is a mere hobby for the 19 year-old Buba, a third year Political Science student at the University of Maiduguri. “However, he is open to pursuing it as a profession and is already full of advice for those who wish to try their hand at this modern art form. “You should invite people to critique your work. Sometimes, what one thinks is a great shot may in fact be a deplorable photo to the viewing public. Being prepared to learn from your mistakes will make you a professional photographer, and thus participating in competitions like the eLearning Africa Photo Competition will improve one’s skill in photography,” he says.
To browse through these and other photos from this year’s eLearning Africa Photo Competition, please click here.