“They Came From The Water While The World Watched”

“They Came From The Water While The World Watched”

The Jimmy Nelson Foundation is proud to announce its support for the photography project “They came from the water while the world watched” by Giya Makondo-Wills. This project is the first of many to be funded in relation to the foundation’s “Celebrate Culture” project call. In this project, the young British-South african photographer will portray her relatives in the rural South-African province of Limpopo. Here she traces Ancestral beliefs within everyday Christian customs and culture, exploring how traditional cultures and beliefs are alive within the world we know today.


In October 2016, the Jimmy Nelson Foundation opened its doors for applicants to submit cultural projects. Makondo-Wills’ unique South African project is the first to be made public this year. ‘They came from the water’ looks at how ancestral cultures survive in the world we know today. As such, it represents Jimmy Nelson’s values about raising awareness on the way globalisation affects our cultural heritage and how we can foster appreciation for (indigenous) cultural diversity.


Makondo-Wills is elated that the support enables her to connect with her respective cultural backgrounds in an artistic and rewarding way. “While I have been brought up in the UK, my parents have raised me with a strong sense of my white British and Black African identity. The Jimmy Nelson Foundation has given me the financial support to highlight the amazing religious diversity in South Africa.” Makondo-Wills will exhibit her work in both London and Johannesburg. “It will be my first solo show in Johannesburg, which will open on 2nd of May at Assemblage Art Space.”


The Jimmy Nelson Foundation has pledged their support because we recognize the unique dual perspective Makondo-Wills embodies. We appreciate her exploratory approach that highlights the symbiotic relationship between cultural elements and the resilience of pre-colonial customs in a modern guise.


You can help support Giya Makondo-Wills’ project – and future cultural projects – by donating or becoming a Friend.



Giya Makondo-Wills


Giya Makondo-Wills (1994) is a British-South African documentary photographer currently based in Cardiff, South Wales. Her practice looks at race, identity and colonialism in relation to Britain and South Africa. What makes Makondo-Wills so unique is her dual perspective: being both British and South African, she addresses the clash of beliefs from the point of view of the coloniser and the colonised.