Mimi Cherono Ng'ok | Esther C.

Country of origin: Kenya
Project location: Uganda
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2017

Esther Chesire was a Kenyan student studying at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. My project seeks to create a fictionalized account of Esther C.’s life and her final disappearance, which remains unsolved. I hope to use this project to explore the mechanisms of memory and the means to counter erasure and disappearance. 

In post independence Africa (1960 - ), many countries experienced military coups as well as student uprisings. It was a feature of the period to have University students across the continent rebel and resist against political establishments that had become authoritarian. The University then became a significant site of critical thinking and engagement as well as producing the first generation of post independent graduates. In 1976, Uganda was under the authority of Idi Amin Dada. Makerere University was then part of the greater collective of Universities in East Africa. In reaction to being sites of resistance, Universities then became sites of violence against students, by the State. 

I focused on finding archival material that could give me enough to create a historical record of the time and this event in a certain shape or form. In Kenya and Uganda there are large gaps within the official narrative about major historical events. Therefore it was even more difficult to find details or accounts of events that were not considered as significant.