Edward Echwalu

Edward Echwalu

Based
Kampala, Uganda
Born
Soroti, Uganda
Camera
Canon 5D Mark II
“You want to be a great photographer? Then learn to be patient.”

Beat

Breaking news, humanitarian stories.

One Shot

. Kampala, Uganda. Reuters/Edward Echwalu
A man walks across an abandoned street during demonstrations in Kampala. At least one person was killed when Ugandan police fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds protesting the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, a Reuters witness said.
“Amid protests against the cost of living, police sirens and gunshots pierced the air. Out of nowhere a man appeared, on his way to prayers in a mosque. He embodies the idea that once someone believes in something, no amount of force can suppress it.”

Profile

My earliest memory of photography was a black-and-white portrait hanging on the wall of my mum and dad standing with a bicycle. Back then there were practically no cameras around and so, to me, that picture was a symbol of achievement and authority.

Human memory fades. The value of photographs only appreciates. That’s why I wanted to become a photographer.

I learnt the craft while studying a degree in Journalism and Communication. I remember going to Nairobi in Kenya, a return bus trip of more than 1,300km, to buy my first camera, a Canon Powershot A430. It was only the second time I had left Uganda, so it was quite a frightening yet enthralling experience.

My first assignment was in April 2011 to cover the violence rocking Kampala. The leading opposition candidate, Kizza Besigye, and other opposition leaders had organised a campaign, dubbed "walk to work", calling on Ugandans to leave their cars at home and walk to highlight the high price of fuel and food. The first protest was immediately met with a deployment of riot police armed with teargas.

Once you are out there, the demands of shooting photos for a global audience hits you - even more so when it’s your first time.

The assignment that left the biggest mark on me was in March 2014, when an overloaded boat carrying mostly refugees trying to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo had capsized and hundreds had died on Lake Albert in western Uganda. My video colleague and I drove through the night to reach the site by sunrise. When we arrived no bodies had been recovered, yet the scene of the accident was barely 200m from the shore. Then suddenly as the sun rose, bodies of children, pregnant mothers and men started emerging from the water. It was perhaps the most terrifying 15 minutes of my life. What these innocent people went through underlined the importance of a home.

The most exciting assignments are those that make me feel overwhelmed. I love to be on the spot then because such moments remind me of the importance of photojournalism and its role in society.

With ever-growing digital media I foresee a vibrant future for photojournalism. More and more stories will be told reaching audiences that could only have been a dream a few years ago.