Working with NGOs and GOs, this body of work has been created over the past four years across the continent of Africa. It is an evolving and ever growing body of work highlighting the often touristic nature of aid work and the parachute photographers documenting it. The work is shot handheld on a mobile phone, flawed to expose the maker's hand from either the right-hand or left-hand side of a 4x4. The left or right-hand side gives an indication as to who were the colonisers of each country.
This work, an offshoot of my PhD research addresses the role of the photographer as outsider, the role of NGOs and the European position of narrating issues on the African continent through biased eyes.
The term "mzungu" is a Swahili word commonly used in East Africa to refer to a person of European descent, often colloquially denoting a foreigner or someone of non-African origin. This linguistic expression encapsulates cultural and historical connotations, reflecting the interaction and impact of European colonization on the African continent. It is believed the term Mzungu refers to spume - white sea foam that is created by the agitation of seawater, appearing on shorelines. A fleeting trace of white that disappears almost as quickly as it arrives.
The triggering moment for this work and the wider examination of the outsider as storyteller arose from a 2017 visit to Iraq, to document the ongoing struggle of the Yezidi people (still displaced 9 years following the ISIS genocide of 2014). On this trip, my role of the parachute photographer was exposed to me as borderline fraudulent. Since, I have explored and documented my own involvement in perpetuating lazy and biased attitudes. I can’t escape my whiteness, my European passport or my privileged position but I can work towards studying and highlighting it.
‘mzUNgu’, continues to grow but to date has been created in Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and South Africa (2018-2023)