Piga Picha is swahili for "make picture", it’s also a group of enthusiastic Burundian and European photojournalists passionate about Burundi and the lasting effect of images.
“We are photojournalists, photographers and human rights activists” says Teddy Mazina of Piga Picha.
Piga Picha was born out of an encounter in Burundi between a Burundian, Teddy Mazina, and an Italian, Martina Bacigalupo, and the need to keep a photographic memory of the country. Teddy Mazina came back to Burundi after ten years of exile in Belgium due to the civil war opposing Hutus and Tutsis.
Back in Bujumbura, he realised that there were no footage of the ravages of the war, no trace of what happened during the years of ethnical violence. “For us and for the future generation, it is very important to remember what happened before and what is happening today so that we don’t make the same mistakes again,” says Teddy Mazina.
Piga Picha also aspires to fill the absence of a photography scene in Burundi. “There are no photojournalists in Burundi, they can’t make a living out of it, there are journalists who take pictures when they have a camera. So we want to fill that void,” explains Martina Bacigalupo who has been living in Burundi for the past three years.
The group is constructed around the idea of sharing. The Europeans share their technical know how, the Burundians bring their intimate knowledge of the field. Martina Bacigalupo was awarded the Canon Female Photojournalist 2010, for her the idea of “sharing” is crucial for the group’s dynamic.
“In Piga Picha, we share, we share our different experiences, our different cultural background. It’s a place where to debate about things, where to explore different perspectives. It’s richness is that we come from different background and, hopefully, it is expressed in the images we show.”
Piga Picha is currently working on a television documentary about a series of issues, like street children, prisons, violence and small arms. The group also wants to strike collaboration with neighbouring countries. “There are Piga Picha organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Kenya. We are trying to establish a network and see what we can do together,” says Teddy Mazina.
“I think that photography can help make a difference, we can show what we see and what people don’t see and make them react,” adds Mazina.