I first visited Sumbawanga in 2011, working PiXL International. At that time, Sumbawanga was a quiet agricultural town, only accessible by 200 km of dirt road, which was slow to travel and frequently impassable in the rainy season. Even then, people were talking about the new road that was coming and the change they anticipated.
‘The road will bring development.’
‘Teachers here are all buying land to build a house.’
Building the road in this terrain and climate and through existing villages was a lengthy process. Each year, more sections were completed and the road was finally finished in 2015.
I was curious about how the citizens of Sumbawanga viewed the changes that were happening in their town. Over the years I had many conversations, in English and Swahili, with local people. In October 2017 I photographed and interviewed people I met around the town. Now I'm finalising the project to show as an exhibition.
'Photography isn't looking, it's feeling. If you can't feel what you're looking at, then you're never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.'
The fundamental thing is the search after truth and putting a love and reverence for the subject before self-expression.
'I think if I ever get satisfied, I'll have to stop. It's the frustration that drives you.'
I've just returned from another trip to Tanzania with PiXL International. This organisation's work with secondary school head teachers is really making a difference to the life chances of students leaving school.
Returning each year it has also been fascinating to see the changes that development and urbanisation have brought to the Rukwa region.
I'm very pleased to be starting a portrait project with this organisation for their fascinating oral histories work http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/about/latest-research/oral-history-project. I'm looking forward to meeting the interviewers next week.