By Abul Ajak
In Nakivale refugee camp, one of the oldest in Uganda, Ishimwe Jonah, a Congolese refugee, starts a nursery school with the profit earned from farming. Jonah hopes the future generation of refugees will be empowered, and will have access to all the amenities and knowledge from within the camp. He also hopes they will not be excluded from access to opportunities because of a lack of education.
But his dreams are not without challenges. The farm which enabled him to start the school is adversely affected by climate change and disease, and its income is being depleted. He wants the world to start engaging and directly supporting refugees who have created such initiatives.
Abul Ajak is a documentary storyteller, who weaves the threads of African narrative traditions, classic documentary forms and experimental video art. She is interested in stories and how they form our knowledge of the world, the ways that our worldly understanding is already established in our diverse human psyches, and how narratives can influence our perspectives. As an avid Pan-Africanist, her stories are intended to bond the continent and the diaspora, and also to challenge the tangible and intangible barriers of our formulated notions of culture and identity in a contemporary and dynamic environment.
The stories she creates explore a wide range of social issues, including politics, feminism, human rights, conflict, the environment, inequality, development, culture, tradition, history, technology, science, health, and futurism, while centering human narratives and exploring underlying psychological, philosophical and metaphysical elements. Her films stem from a need to tell empowering narratives about communities that are often considered solely as victims of circumstance.
For Abul, empowering narratives serve not only to challenge the perceptions of audiences, but also of the people represented within these stories. Abul is currently working as a freelancer and has established her creative company Afro Diorama, where she continues to develop her visual practice with projects in advertising, film, events and art.