Patrick Donnelly, Unsplash

A look behind the lens of the GLF Africa 2022 photo competition winners

Every picture has a story. From Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, here are three

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Africa is a continent with a diverse and stunning array of cultures, nature and landscapes. It is one thing to hear this, however, and quite another to see it.

And so, ahead of 2022’s annual conference on Africa hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), a photo competition was held to showcase the continent’s beauty. Photographers submitted over 700 photos, ranging from the streets of Zanzibar to the seaside in Ghana. 

The winners were announced in June and picked by a panel of judges made up of the conservation photographer and filmmaker Anthony Ochieng of TonyWild, documentary photographer Neema Jodie, 2022 GLF Restoration Steward for forests Kandi, the GLFx community engagement coordinator Anita Moragia and landscape photographer Donald J Mwangi.

Here are the three winners:

1st Place: “Fishers on Run” by Sani Maikatanga

Every year, to mark the start of fishing season in February, the town of Argungu in northern Nigeria’s Kebbi State throws Africa’s largest fishing festival. The days-long festivities of the Argungu Fishing Festival, which began after the end of centuries of hostility between two kingdoms, end with a race to the Mata Fadan River in a contest to catch the biggest fish. 

“I observed the readiness and willingness, coupled with determination, exhibited by each and every participant fisherman as they went in to win the contest,” says Sani Maikatanga, a Nigerian photographer and the first-place winner of the photo competition. “At that moment, I climbed one of the highest structures around the area so as to capture every contestant.”

Maikatanga hopes his picture will raise awareness of Argungu outside Nigeria: “I believe that projection of the festival to the public will add more value to the event, the history of the northern part of Nigeria and the country as a whole,” he says.

Follow Maikatanga on Instagram: sanimaikatanga_photography

2nd Place: “Light” by Lungisani Mjaji

Sometimes the perfect moment appears unexpectedly, and a photographer has to act fast to capture it just in time. This is exactly what happened when Lungisani Mjaji took this photo of two boys, one showing the other how to hold a traditional cattle-herding stick while waiting for the sun to set before herding their fathers’ cattle back home.

“It wasn’t planned,” says Mjaji, a South African photography student at Tshwane University of Technology whose photo won second place in the competition. “I pressed the shutter at the right time.”

He took this photo in his hometown of KwaNongodi in South Africa. As the only photographer in his village, he has been working on a project called “Footprints” to photograph its young people and natural beauty.

“It’s my roots. It is where I grew up,” says Mjaji. “This photograph took place 20 feet away from my home… My dream is to bring art to the village.”

Follow Lungisani Mjaji on Instagram: myfootprints_innovativephotog

Audience Choice Award: “Nairobi” by Kevin Maimba

One morning, Kevin Maimba woke up at five o’clock in the morning to climb 20 stories of the UAP Tower in Nairobi. He resourcefully found a way to prop his camera above the 10-foot glass wall surrounding the balcony and then waited for sunrise to take the perfect shot of the city.

“This photo tells an untold story about Nairobi. A story of development, rich history and profound beauty,” says Maimba, the Kenyan photographer whose photo garnered 1,952 votes – the highest number – from viewers. “Nairobi is usually portrayed in a bad light. This photo changes that.”

He captured a portrait of the city told in layers, drifting from the early-morning sky to clustered buildings, and then from an old railway station to a recently constructed elevated expressway to a golf course.

“I was keen to see what the sun’s rays would do to my composition at the golden hour,” he says. “I am glad I was there to capture it. Nairobi is a very beautiful city.”

Follow Kevin Maimba on Instagram: wairiuk0_photography

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