Kanyo Love

Mixed media, TAKS Center, Gulu Uganda, 2019.


Kanyo is an Acholi word that means to endure, to be resilient. The Acholi people, and other people from Northern Uganda, endured 20+ years of conflict between the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan defence forces. As a weapon of this particular war the LRA abducted women and young girls from their families and homes and forced them into marriage with LRA combatants. When the war ended these former wives of the LRA fighters, and the children they bore during their forced marriages, were required to integrate into Acholi society. Integration also assumed the resumption of traditional courtships, relationships and family life; and the expectation that the women remain silent about their experiences.


Kanyo Love is a research-based art project about the aftermath of war through an exploration of the love lives / relationships of 36 former wives of the LRA combatants. The work includes interviews, portraits and documentation of the various courtship gifts that the women received. These gifts and the stories the women tell about them present a critique of the silencing of love in the story of forced marriage and abduction that are superimposed onto the women. It simultaneously presents a portrait of the social and cultural repercussions of war, what it means to rebuild a society and the particulars entailed in remaking an individual life.


Curator: Kara Blackmore


Supported by the London School of Economics


Installation view: TAKS Center, Gulu 2019

Using Format