‘I decided to get above street level and show the mix of colours: the oranges of the market set against the reds of the roofs. It is my country at its very best’
São Paulo market, where this was taken, is near the heart of Luanda, the capital of Angola. It is one of the most important markets in the city, not just because of how many people rely on it to make a living, but because it’s a place where Luanda’s population come to mingle, from the rich to the poor. On this day in June 2022, the sun was beating down and I wanted to show the market in all its colour, movement and life, and to situate it within the city at large. I decided I needed to get above street level to show the mix of colours that make it feel so exciting, all the different paths people weave through it.
This image was taken with a drone hovering high above the market. It allowed me to have a different view from the one visitors usually have – the bright orange of the parasols, the sense of so many people in motion, the sheer scale of it stretching off into the distance. But the drone also meant I could situate the market in the rest of the city: the oranges of the market set against the reds of the roofs and the blues of the surrounding buildings. It’s a view many Angolans do not get to see. When people think of Angola, I don’t think this is what they imagine, but it is my country at its very best.
In Angola, there are two realities. There is suffering: poverty is common, and our people have struggled through difficult times, both during the decades of civil war and in the peace ever since. Life is not easy for many people. But Angola is also a country with a rich culture. Our music is without comparison, blending different styles and traditions to create new kinds of art. Our cities, Luanda in particular, are places of incredible colour and diversity. And the people – my people – are so welcoming, especially to outsiders. We have a sense of hospitality that is beautiful.
I first came to photography almost by chance. I grew up in Benguela, a province on Angola’s western coast, about 500km south of Luanda. As a young man I had always loved art. I painted, I drew, I made music – but when a friend lent me her camera, something felt different. In an instant, I could capture everything in front of me. The feeling of taking that first image changed everything for me. I had found my medium.
Trying to make it in Angola isn’t easy. I have faced many struggles in becoming a photographer. Before me, nobody in my family had shown an artistic side, and so my family weren’t sure what to make of it when I told them about my plans to work as a photographer. They didn’t respond to my dream enthusiastically, but ultimately they respected my decision.
When I started taking pictures, I first looked for photography schools in Angola, but there were no schools where I could graduate. Everything I have learned was through tutorials on YouTube and from friends and peers. But the main problem is the government: they don’t support the young. Pursuing your dreams is something that, too often, people have to do without any support, which means that many people are not able to. There is so much potential in my country, but it is not encouraged and nurtured by the political system and its institutions.
The aim of my work is to showcase everything Angola has to offer. I want to take what is most beautiful in my country and show it on the world stage. I would love foreigners to see Angola as a destination for tourism. I think they would be amazed.
Source: The Guardian