08 November 2016

A Snapshot of Kampala’s Dizzying Party District

08 November 2016 - Written by Laurence Cornet

In a glossy book published by Edition Patrick Frey, Michele Sibiloni draws a provocative and reflective portrait of the restless nightlife in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.

© Michele Sibiloni, spread from the book Fuck It

After working for two years on assignment from Uganda and RDC, covering the Ugandan elections in 2011, the independence of South Sudan, and other events of those years in the region, Michele Sibiloni found himself in a photography crisis. “It was important for me to look for a personal element, to include something of my experience in my photographs”, he explains.

A party animal himself, Sibiloni decided to dive into Kampala’s night, following its peaks of joy and sadness. For two years, he forced himself out almost every night, looking for encounters and adventures. The result is an unexpected gallery of fun and limitlessness sparked with loneliness and darkness.

© Michele Sibiloni, spread from the book Fuck It

“The girl in the above picture dressed in white, Liz, died last week. Things go fast there – people were born and die without notice. People living in the street can disappear really fast”, he adds. “That’s kind of shocking.”

The pictures are at first glance flashy, flirting with trashy at times. The glossy cover of the book supports that impression, though the feature was inherited from the series of dummies that he printed in Kampala while working on the editing. Despite its apparent lightness and hectic energy, the series unravels the dire complexity of Uganda.

“Uganda is a conservative and religious society where corrupt politicians are trying to push conservative law such as that against homosexuality, for instance. It is also a country where you don’t have political freedom - you can’t gather 10 people and talk about politics - but you have the freedom to drink and go out”, Sibiloni recounts.

© Michele Sibiloni, spread from the book Fuck It

Unlike neighbouring countries like Rwanda, where repression hits all possible aspects of life, Uganda has this paradoxical night life, when people drop their mask and do what they want to do. While it’s not the purpose of the book per se, the gallery encompasses, in that sense, the fragile complexity of the country.

“Right now dictatorship is coming towards its end in Uganda. The president is pretty old and nobody knows what is going to happen - will his son take over, will he die, will there be a Coup? It’s unpredictable. The country could easily go back 20 years if something bad happens. So, I also wanted this work to be prospective, and a document for later”, he explains.


Fuck It by Michele Sibiloni

Artist: Michele Sibiloni // Text by: David Cecil // First edition: 2016 // Language: English

Softcover // 128 pages - 66 colour // 17.7 x 25 cm // €43



Michele Sibiloni is an Italian freelance photo/videographer currently based in Uganda. For a number of years he has been covering news events in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Follow him on PHmuseum, Twitter, and Instagram.

Laurence Cornet is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn focusing on cultural and environmental issues.

Written by

Laurence Cornet

Reading time

3 minutes