"The Ugandan Centenarian Mzee"
Location: Jinja, Uganda
Date: March 2019
Photographer: Bob Ditty @bobditty
Home Country: United States
2023 International Photography Exhibition
This photo is of a 100-year-old Ugandan Mzee (Luganda for "old man") and his wife. This photo goes along with a series of photos showcasing the elderly in Uganda, #mzeeseries on Instagram. Uganda is one of the youngest populations in the world with a median age of 15.7. Compare that to the United States with a median age of 38. I wanted to showcase the elderly in one of the world's youngest populations. To give them a voice to impart wisdom to the younger generations. When he turned 100, we celebrated with cake and soda. He was so touched as he never had a birthday cake until then, his 100th birthday! It was such a wonderful day! He is a Ugandan World War II vet who fought alongside the British, serving in Burma. He is so in love with his wife that when I asked to take a photo of him, he insisted that she would be included.
This photo is personally so special to me on many levels as well. I lived in Uganda, Africa for 9 years. This photo truly showed me the power of story and sharing other's stories. It solidified in my mind the type of photographer that I wanted to be. I turned to photographing people and connection more because, for me, it gave me so much more fulfillment photographing people compared to landscapes. It really was a "ine in the sand" in my photographer/filmmaker career. Since that point, I've been people-focused showing the everyday heroes that are out there.