Hickmatu is a young inspiring Sierra Leonean photographer, we got to know Hickmatu when she joined Aurora Impact’s 3rd Cohort back in 2020. We have kept a close eye on her since then, and it has been inspiring to say the least, to see the beauty she has created whilst raising awareness.
We sat down for a chat on the 1st of February, 2023, got some coffee, and the conversation quickly evolves into reminiscing about the past, and how Hickmatu started her journey as a photographer. When Hickmatu was in University doing her BSc in Public Health, she was always taking pictures of people on her phone; she quickly became noticed for doing that and praised for her great pictures; at that time, she was using an iPhone 7 and was mainly doing it because it made her happy, she smiles as she said that and said ,,and it still makes me really happy, I love taking pictures of people, telling their stories.”
After graduating from University with her BSc in Public Health, she started looking for jobs, it proved pretty intense, and she did not find what she was looking for, and her dream of pursuing photography as a career only grew bigger. She went to speak to her uncle, to seek advice on what her next steps should be toward pursuing a career in photography. He encouraged her and said that if she was serious about this, she should get to know the basis of entrepreneurship so her foundation would be strong. He told her he had come across this advertisement about a 10-month entrepreneurship program with Aurora Foundation, he passed on the information, Hickmatu applied and entered Cohort 3!
Remember how Hickmatu did not have a camera when she started the Cohort in the pursuit of becoming a photographer? For her graduation, her relatives gifted her money, to buy a dress, throw a party, etc. Hickmatu used that money to buy her first camera. She mentions her mentors, how they have become more like family, and how much she appreciates them in her life. Hickmatu embodies her dream and takes action to make it a reality every day, a true entrepreneur.
We move on to the topic of future and purpose, big topics. To no surprise, she has a clear vision, she wants to pursue a MA in Photography at the University of The Arts London, focusing on photojournalism and documentaries. Her ultimate ambition is to become a world-renowned photographer known for deep and thought-provoking photos, that speak to people all over the world. Photography, for her, is a universal language that can be understood by people from all walks of life. Hickmatu notes that in Sierra Leone, there are very few professional female photographers; her estimate is that they are less than 10! So for her, as a woman, it is important to her to be a trailblazer and break stereotypes for other young women in Sierra Leone by pursuing her dream whilst using her lens to raise awareness on issues affecting young women.