Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar: Shooting youth culture with a purpose
Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar strikes me as a defacto ambassador to Ugandan youth. He is an award winning photographer, but his mission goes beyond his art. The higher goal is to showcase youth culture in all its vibrancy. Since late 2006 Kibuuka has been working with the Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU), a nonprofit youth organization that uses breakdance and other elements of hip hop culture to empower young people and promote positive social responsibility. Kibuuka is also an ardent graffiti artist and events entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Break-Fast Jam a premier annual event that showcases urban culture in Kampala.
Tell us about yourself. What inspires you to produce such amazing photographic work?
I am Ugandan creative-head, self-taught photographer and a bboy in my early twenties. Hiphop and funk music is my thing. My work has a native influence from the youth and hiphop culture, people, social motivational causes and diverse forms of expression. I enjoy finding the light, creating interactions and capturing that moment both candid and staged. I photograph people in their environments because I want to preserve a moment in time and give a sense of belonging. I am inspired by the curiosity of understanding people’s enthusiasm and drive towards their work, creating and preserving history and making art.
You are an award winning photographer and have had your work published in the East African and in the Washington post? How important are such acknowledgements to you and which number one publication would you love your work to be featured in?
I’m very grateful when my art and my vision are brought to bigger platforms for people to see. To me it shows the importance of capturing and creating art in our day-to-day life and sharing it with others. It has always been my way of self-expression and saving a purpose in life. Awards are the gratification, the recognition and when they come your way, they motivate and set you on another level.
One of my missions as a photographer is changing the recurring, single-sided narrative on the African continent in the mainstream media, so exhibiting my work on such renowned platforms is a huge success. I hope it sparks a different dialogue wave.
As for the publication, I can’t pick one, but I’d definitely love to be published in a book of African Magnum photographers. Also National Geographic and The New York Times.
The details of your photographs – the lighting, facial expressions, movement and mood are extraordinary. What is your secret?
My secret is shooting with a purpose be it a single shot or a photo story. When it comes to taking the actual shots, I listen, observe and use all my senses to capture the right moment. At the back of my head, I know mastering the craft is key, because there’s nothing like a “lucky shot”. The fun part is experimenting, I also try out everything fun too.
Depiction of Africa tends to be one sided. Your photography, especially on youth culture, brings to the fore the vibrant youth culture that exists in Uganda and elsewhere. How important is this for you to showcase?
Some of my most important role models are in the age group of ‘youth’. My photography on the youth culture is not only for the people outside Africa, but it’s also for those in the African political system that is shaping this continent populated by youth. I want to showcase that the youth are making and bringing change, their social enterprises are creating paths and making a living for themselves, with what we’d called unconventional methods and activities, and this is why it’s important to advertise this community.
To the international media, I just have one short sentence: My photography is the real Africa around me.
Which part of Uganda or Kampala would you take any of our readers to capture beautiful images?
I enjoy noise and action. I would take them to the taxi park or Owino market in Kampala – a place where you can find clothes, food, spare parts… basically you can buy anything you can imagine.
Which cities or countries would you love to go on a photographic trip to and why?
Before going to other countries and cities I want to explore my country more. I’ve been to most of the key districts of the country, but I’ve never been able to get to know those places very well.
We love food photography. Which Ugandan dishes would you photograph to tell the world about?
Honestly, Ugandan food is not photogenic, but delicious, try any kind of Luwombo with matooke you’d be amazed. It’s a must try. I’d hate myself for not mentioning that the best fruits on the planet are from Uganda. Fruit Salad and refresh.
Any tips for any aspiring photographers?
Wear your most comfortable shoes. And make a picture of your mum, every year. Also if you want to work full time, you better learn some business skills.