"Cheka Kidogo" – Rankin

“Cheka Kidogo” means “smile a little” in Swahili.

This series of photographs by Rankin in association with Oxfam was photographed in the, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mugunga refugee camp. There are around 17,000 refugees there. Although it is to document the victims of Congo the photographs have been taken in a unique way.


We are used to seeing “traditional” photos of conflict, crisis and its victims. Photographs like these only highlight the issue of war and struggle but do not show the people as real people.

Rankin however has photographed the victims at the refugee camp in a different light.

In this series there are 36 photographs and each portrait has a story. Rankin took time to ask them their names and about themselves and their struggles. Each photograph is titled with their name. Knowing their names was the first step in helping us understand them and look at them as real people.

Although these are portraits of the victims smiling you can still see the hardship they are going through clearly on their faces and in their eyes and because of the personal effect of the photos the viewer feels a connection to the photograph through humanity. The photographs are not just documenting current affairs but going deeper and touching peoples hearts to make a change.

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