Exposing Africa’s beauty to the world #UnscramblingAfrica
I visited Berlin earlier this year for the tenth edition of Re:publica – an annual digital conference that brings together players in the digital world, media players and human rights defenders. I was a panelist in the one of the sessions discussing African elections and the trend of social media shutdowns.
Skewed views about Africa
After the session someone from the audience approached me, he was so surprised that we were so keen on protecting our freedoms online. He thought the digital space was nn-existent in Africa. This is just one of the assumptions people have out here when they think about Africa. They even think Africa is a country!!
In most cases the images they have of our continent is that of a malnourished child with his cheeck bones sticking out holding a bowl on one arm and supporting his frail head with the other as his chin rests on the palm of his hands – total hopelessness. Our lands are depicted as barren. Hit by the scorching Sahara sun. Lifeless. The few places with rivers and streams are desolate. The inhabitants in exile in refugee camps as warlords roam the diamond rich farms – maiming everyone on sight.
That is not my Africa. Not my Kenya.
I am born and bred in Kisumu, it’s my most favorite place in the whole world. It could be small compared to the Berlins and the Londons of this world but it it has it’s elements of modernity too. We have amazing skylines like the one in the photo above by my colleague Daryl Aduda. We have world-class shopping malls – more than six in the city alone. High – end hotels including the breathtaking Acacia Premier which is the only five star establishment in the city. Several four star hotels. World Class restaurant’s with the latest entrant being the American Brand Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).
Kisumu sits on the shores of the world’s second largest fresh water lake. Your visit to the city is not done until you have had a breathtaking view of the evening sunset at Dunga Hillcamp. If you are an adrenaline junky then a jet ski at Kiboko Bay Resort will get you “fixed.”
But that is Kisumu – Kenya’s third largest city. I haven’t told you anything about Nairobi, the heartbeat of the continent. Nothing about Mombasa and her beautiful sandy beaches and Swahili women.
What about Cairo, Harare, Johannesburg?
Africa has world class cities with all the amenities you will find in New York, London or Bangkok if you venture further into the the East. But that is never the image of Africa portrayed in the western media. A group of African photographers are on a mission to change this by traveling across the continent and sharing images of the cities they pass through.
This is a road trip project with the purpose to explore what defines urbanity across our continent, Africa by a team of 4 photographers. From Nairobi to Durban, the team will see and document what these cities look like, meet the people that reside in them, interact with the sub-cultures and photograph the built environment of these cities. The journey and photos will be shared with anyone interested using various social media platforms.
Who are the photographers?
Mutua Matheka – Photographer, artist, former architect and avid traveler, with a great eye for showcasing African landscapes, architecture and cultures. He has been a photographer since 2010 and has a dream of photographing all African cities. Mutua chooses to see the beauty in the mundane. [Instagram: @truthslinger]
Joe Were – Travel and documentary photographer, linguist, Instagram influencer and adventure-seeker. Joe has an eye for landscapes and capturing human moments of beauty. [Instagram: @jaydabliu]
Lulu Kitololo – Artist, designer, creative director and storyteller whose current tools of choice are illustration and graphic design. Inspired by nature, tropical colour as well as culture and craft traditions from across the continent – content creation is her cup of tea. [Instagram: @lulukitololo]
Josh Kisamwa – Travel & Documentary storyteller using film as his medium. Inspired by the stories he hears from the people he meets all over the continent. [Instagram: @joshkisamwa]
The four storytellers are now in preparation for an ambitious road trip around Southern Africa to capture images that balance the existing perception of African cities. And they would love it if you want to be part of this quest, or as Mutua says; Together we are stronger and better. They are trying to raise 35,000USD in the next 2 weeks.
So far the organizers have raised Shs 412k towards the project dubbed #UnscramblingAfricaAt but they are counting on you to help them realize this dream of getting to Durban. If 4000 people gave at least Kshs. 1000 (aprox USD 10), they will have met their goal and successfully funded the project. They only have 15 days left to make this happen.
So how do you make sure that the next time you google Nairobi you don’t just get images of conflicts, slums or at best wildlife or that the next time I am in Berlin people don’t get surprised that we have internet in the continet?
PROJECT : Unscrambling Africa – A crowdfunding project to document African cities.
TIME FRAME? : Ongoing until 24th December 2016
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A version of this article was published on the AFRICA BLOGGING website.