Kampala: Sleep where you work

Uganda is under lockdown with a curfew and extensive restrictions on movement to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Photographer, painter, poet and social activist De Lovie captures the market vendors following the government’s sleep-where-you-work order to prevent the virus’ transmission.

Uganda’s lockdown imposes a curfew from 7 PM, implemented by police beatings for those who do not comply. There is also a ban on public transport (except for motorcycle deliveries), and only private cars with a permission sticker from the Resident District Commissioner can be on the road, which means the only way to move around is through walking.

For some, the lockdown is even more controlling; market vendors must adhere to the sleep-where-you-work order, and spend the night in their stalls, meaning drastic changes to their lives to combat the spread of the virus.

This photo blog captures some of these vendors in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, who reflect on their unprecedented circumstances.

De Lovie is the photographer of all the pictures published below.

De Lovie: An empty stall stares back at me as if to remind me of the many vendors who sacrificed work, those who couldn't stand staying away from their families for an unknown amount of time.

Babirye (53) uses her stall to sleep at night. Inside she stores basic personal items needed to survive, which she carried from her home. 21 April 2020.

Aggie (29) initiating a transaction with a customer. 'Things have been going really slow lately because many people tend to buy foods that last long so they don't have to walk back and forth to the markets, leaving us in a very tight situation.'

Beatrice (60) poses with a makeshift mask in front of her stall with her fellow vendors (Alice and Mayi). 24 April 2020.

It's been a month or so since I have left this place. I have stopped counting ... I fold myself up like this every night so I can catch some sleep'. Lillian (48).

27 April 2020.

Nanono (43) at her stall in the market.

Nabaakooza (48): 'My back hurts so much from not being able to shift my body like when I'm in my own bed. This is indeed a survival of the fittest as the youth say haha. Where did this disease (the coronavirus) come from even?'

Nyakaisiki (48), Market vendor who also sleeps at the market

Amali (58) in front of her colourful stall. All market vendors have to commemorate President Museveni's sleep-where-you-work order to containing the spread of the virus. 24 April 2020.

Babirye (53) sits at her stall where she sells bananas wearing a face mask. She uses the stall as a bed at night. 21 April 2020.

This story was shared by De Lovie, a self-taught photographer, painter, poet and social activist. Their work focuses on human rights and stories of humanity, empowerment and advocacy for women's equality. Her photography was originally published on the blog of LSE Centre for Africa. To see more of De Lovie’s photography please visit their Instagram.

How do you experience living in your city under Coronavirus? Share your story and join us to Spread stories, not the virus.

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