Creative Translation 1: ‘Tupa Tupa’ Uganda

Lines Talking:
visual research
  • Sketchbook explorations
  • iPad animation experiments
  • TVpaint refinements
Transforming Tales:
visual storytelling
  • First storyboards
  • Visual inspiration
  • Contextual research
  • The Creative Translations


Uganda is the country where I first started to develop the GAMEchange methodologies, building on other pictorial methodologies that already existed from organisations like Action Aid, and also local Ugandan artists working with development agencies. It is a country where I have a lot of photographs of community drawings and also contextual information from two coffee-producing regions:

  • Rwenzoris in Western Uganda with three organisations: Kabarole Research Centre, Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union and local Community-Based Organisations like Mwana Mulho where I worked 2003-2016.
  • Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda with a Fair Trade Cooperative: Gumutindo from a process funded by TWIN UK 2012-2014. T

Community Voices:
Gender inequality

Rwenzoris: KRC, Bukonzo Joint and Mwana Mulho

Organisations in the Rwenzoris have been working with and adapting PALS since 2003. Women and men in the area have developed their own pictorial language and do very detailed diagram analysis for their own life planning. Organisations have also integrated the pictorial systems into their organisational planning and impact assessments.

Many of the drawings are very detailed in terms of information, colourful and organisational drawings are often large and colour-coded.

Many of the images are figures doing something that are quite easy to understand for people from the area who know the crops, trees etc.However because they have become a ‘pictorial language’, there is a tendency for drawings to become formulaic rather than innovative and expressive. Particularly in manuals produced by staff where the more polished style is very noticeable. Though understandable as the aim of the manuals is clarity.

Mount Elgon:
Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative

Gumutindo is a Fair Trade coffee cooperative on the slopes of Mount Elgon. Although women perform about 70% of the work on coffee, they are generally not admitted as cooperative members – and so eligible for training and credit – because men own the land and control the coffee money (see also the situation in DRC). Domestic abuse was very common (about 70% households) and men locked the store to stop the women getting hands on the coffee money. GALS was introduced as part of a gender strategy of TWIN-UK who were prominent buyers of Gumutindo coffee and did a lot of the training for them.

I decided to base my creative translations on drawings from gender diamonds from the first workshop because these single-image vignettes by women of their situation are some of the most expressive, poignant and raw that I have encountered. Each image manages to tell a story in itself that can be largely understood even by someone from outside.

  • What women don't like: Unequal property rights, Gumutindo, Uganda
  • What women don't like: Gumutindo, Uganda
  • What women don't like: Nagging children and lazy husband, Gumutindo, Uganda
  • Women's view of disempowerment: Two wives, Gumutindo, Uganda
  • Woman and Man Drinking, Gender Diamond, Gumutindo, Uganda
  • Women's view of disempowerment: Kidnap? violence? Gumutindo, Uganda
  • Women's view of empowerment: Gumutindo, Uganda
  • Gumutindo Soulmate Vision 1
  • Gumutindo Soulmate Vision 4
  • Gumutindo Soulmate Vision 3
  • Gumutindo Soulmate Vision 2
  • Gumintindo Gender Diamond Women 1
  • Gumitindo Gender Diamond Women 2
  • Gumutindo Gender Diamond Men 1
  • Gumutindo Gender Diamond Men 2

Lines talking:
Visual Research

Sketchbook explorations

iPad experiments

TVpaint refinements

Transforming Tales:
Visual Storytelling

Storyboard ideas

Idea 2: ‘Tupa Tupa’ who gets the coffee money?

‘Tupa Tupa’ means drinking/drunkard.

The visuals I chose for my first set of creative translations are from stories already composed by farmers in two role plays – one by women and one by men – from a GALS gender training for Muungano Fair Trade coffee cooperative from DRC.

The workshop iself was held in Rwanda because there was too much bombing in the area the farmers came from. Also to link them with women and men in Rwanda who were doing the same methodology.

The role plays were to look at differences and similarities between women and men in how they perceived women and men’s roles in coffee production and benefits from coffee. Participants were divided into one men’s group and one women’s group and given props so that women could play men and men could play women – adding a lot of laughter to the proceedings. I include the full photo series as these might provide series to animate through cropping.

The idea is to combine the two role play stories into one. And experimenting with the sequencing of the storyline – as in Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story. This would be done combining physical drawing and painting on photos and/or rotoscoping over the drawings and/or photos, cropping them to add drama. Possibly I might do some cut-out and collage in the style of Sarah Fanelli. Certainly I want to retain the colours and expressions. Good sequencing and framing, focusing on the very expressive faces, should make it possible to tell the story without text or words. I would have to think about sound – possibly one of the GALS Swahili songs and/or sound effects.

Women’s role play story
  1. Wives and daughters in the family are working in the fields while the man sits back
  2. The women carry the coffee to market. The man accompanies them and keeps the money.
  3. The man persuades them to go home, promising to come soon. The women go back.
  4. The man goes to the bar and his girlfriend.
  5. His girlfriend persuades him to buy her not only drinks, but also fancy clothes in the market.
  6. The daughter goes to the market to find the father and see him with the girlfriend. Then goes back to tell her mother.
  7. The women then all go and attack – not the husband – but the girlfriend (a point of much discussion).
Men’s role play story

Photographs of a men’s role play in a Fair Trade Cooperative! Tupa Tupa means ‘drink, drink’ – the man’s nickname.

  • women do all the work on coffee
  • men take all the money to gamble, drink and buy presents for his ‘girlfriend’ in town
  • the man gets put in jail because of a fight
  • the lawyer and police chief work together to extort bribes from the family to secure his release
  • the family is left without money
  • the only winners from the whole coffee production are the corrupt officials
  • ….till they use the GALS participatory visioning methodology

Combined elements

Visual inspiration

Contextual research and audience

Videos on gender issues in Africa

Creative Translations

!! Forthcoming July 2020

Creative translation ideas

African Graphic Design

There is no Wikipedia on African Graphic Design!!!

A history of African art (not graphic design contrary to the title) is:

And interesting websites with artists are:

A Google search for African typefaces tend to be rather kitsch zebras and unusable. Not the typefaces more commonly used in Africa – these are the common Adobe and Microsoft ones. But African designers have used these with colours in slightly different ways that I have yet to properly analyse.

Some examples from an NGO brochure in Kenya (I unfortunately do not know the designer).

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

From NGO brochure

Textile design gives possibilities for different colour schemes:

Zulu House Pattern
Zulu House Pattern

Julio Senna, Brazilian inspired by Africa