Hit Burundi Roads With ‘Ikinga’
Founded in 2005, Burundian bicycle-taxi association, Solidarité des Taxis Vélos du Burundi, has more than 15,000 unionized members. In 2013, photographer Stephan Würth took a road trip around the hilly country, snapping images on his iPhone of these ubiquitous “bike taxi-men” who are the subject of his new photo book : Ikinga.
“In this land that was so otherworldly to me, it was captivating to see how the ikinga was used so universally—all ages, jobs. So I decided to just take pictures of every bicycle I saw during those two days.”
What he captured is a kind of cinema vérité of the vibrant motion of Burundian life on the road in a country where cars and trucks are almost absent. For this project Würth abandoned his Leica and ended up using his wife’s phone to make the pictures.
“I noticed that almost no one saw me take snaps with the iPhone,” he says. “And I loved the images because I was able to capture something more natural and real.”
“While the history of Burundi and its legacy of civil war and ethnic conflict cannot be ignored, Würth’s photographs, far from eschewing this legacy, offer new insights into how the nation strives to overcome its past by presenting a unique glimpse into life there today,” Joseph Akel writes in Ikinga,.
“The bicycle has become a potent symbol of how that change is playing out … Indeed, the bicycle in Burundian culture has, in many ways, come to stand in for the resilience and the ingenuity of its people.”
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