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Image courtesy of Ley Uwera.

What’s in a Photo? We Go Behind the Lens With Congolese Photographer Ley Uwera

Ley Uwera gives us the backstory on some of the most riveting images she's taken of life in DR Congo.

Ley Uwera has a gift.

With a single flash of a camera, the radio reporter turned photojournalist has the ability to tell stories that both preserve and shift the narrative of what it means to be Congolese; specifically life in Eastern Congo, wrought with misleading tropes and stereotypes perpetuated by a Western lens.

A graduate of the Université de Cipromad in Goma, Uwera always knew she wanted to find a career that married her passion for creativity and her interest in humanity. In her fifth year of photojournalism, she has curated a body of work that captures the soul of her people beautifully. And sometimes, painfully. It's storytelling, she explained to OkayAfrica, and it's necessary in order to see the full picture.

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Image courtesy of Bose Ogulu

The Internet Doesn't Know Mama Burna At All

She might be your favorite internet auntie, but Bose Ogulu is a woman and a professional in full.

At the top of the year, Bose Ogulu—the mother and manager of one of Nigeria's biggest Afro-fusion stars—won the internet with three simple words: "Expect more madness."

She uttered those words into the mic at the 2018 Soundcity Music Awards (broadcast live on Jan. 5, 2019), where she accepted the biggest accolade of the night on behalf of her son, Burna Boy. The response on Twitter was swift; tweets praising the artist's badass mother for her youthful energy populated the social media platform immediately after she confidently strolled off the stage.

"Burna Boy's mom be shaking tables and chairs—in fact all furnitures [sic]," wrote one Twitter user. "Burna Boy's mom is the real MVP!!! Now we know where he got it from," wrote another. Her unapologetic delivery at the awards show, followed by another widely shared clip showing Ogulu warmly embracing her son (while he holds what appears to be a joint), quickly earned her the title of the "cool mom" amongst young Nigerian social media users. Fans had yet another reason to tweet out their admiration for a woman they dubbed Mama Burna. She's fun like a sister. She's familiar like an auntie. She loves fiercely like a mother. It seems, according to internet praise, we have her pegged. She's Burna Boy's mom, and many who have watched her boost her son's career have only seen her through this singular lens.

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To the Girls With Heavy Names

Oronike Odeleye's name isn't just a direct line to the continent. It's the blueprint for how she lives her life and the reason she spends her time protecting Black women and girls.

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