Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Remembering Sumaya Sadurni Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

22 March 2022

Freelance photojournalist Sumaya Sadurni, whose work was published in the world's most respected publications, was killed in an auto accident in northwestern Uganda on March 7 along with Ugandan NGO worker Thomas Mugisha. She was 32.

Based in Kampala, Uganda, she was known for her coverage across East Africa which captured not only the conflict but the essence of the region she had come to call home.

She was born of Mexican and Spanish descent, and raised in Santiago, Chile, at the end of the dictatorial reign of Augusto Pinochet. She spent most of her youth in Latin America before settling in Switzerland for high school. She attended high school at the International School of Lausanne and later studied journalism at University of the Arts London. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Westminster with a dissertation on human rights coverage in Chile.

After visiting a childhood friend in Uganda in 2016, she moved there.

Sadurni's approach wasn't just to show the disfiguration caused by the attacks, but also to show the power of the survivor.

Sadurni began working as a freelancer for Agence France-Presse in January 2018. She was a member of the International Press Association of Uganda, formerly known as the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Uganda.

One of her major projects involved photographing survivors of acid attacks in Uganda. The attacks are often used by men against their wives or girlfriends, as they formed a support group and lobbied for a law that would increase punishments for such violence.

Sadurni's approach wasn't just to show the disfiguration caused by the attacks, but also to show the power of the survivor. In her portraits, they are often smiling.

She also took portraits of the Ugandan feminist activist and author Stella Nyanzi, who remembered her in a Facebook post:

Where several expatriates working and living in Uganda use their expertise in the service of the privileged abusers of oppressive power, Sumy passionately deployed her skills in the service of the underdogs.

Among those underdogs was Bobi Wine, who ran against Uganda's longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, last year. On the morning of the vote, she was at home with Wine taking photographs before the results were known. But rather than focus only on him, she took portraits of his wife, Barbie Kyagulanyi, an activist and political figure in her own right.

Wine and his supporters were beaten, arrested and tear-gassed after the election as Museveni fought to remain in the role he had held for 35 years. Sadurni covered the violent marches and protests, never deterred from her work, Wine remarked.

"She went through so much trouble to follow us and report the truth," Wine said. "She was a strong journalist, always humorous, never fearing the powerful."

She was also a certified Canon photography trainer who mentored young photojournalists in Uganda.

Journalist Liam Taylor, co-chairman of the International Press Association of Uganda, said, "We marveled at her pictures. We were moved by them. But if you want to find her legacy, look for it in the young photographers she mentored and inspired. They are still out there, taking the pictures that she no longer can."

NPR has published a gallery of her images. She is survived by her parents and her brother Jorge.

BackBack to Photo Corners