In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, a free photo exhibition is underway, and it’s making Kenyans question just how much they know about their homeland.
The exhibition dubbed “Beyond” has been put together by a group of photographers known as OneTouch. It showcases a series of images captured in different parts of the country – from the bustling financial capital, to some of the most remote locations.
Many of the images glorify the country’s beautiful nature spots and wild animals, while some also expose the grim sides.
One of the group’s members, Nigerian born, Okwi Okoh says the photographers wanted to create an experience that was realistic and different from what many Kenyans have always seen in western produced nature books and television shows.
“Last year we focused exclusively on Kenya; different places that people may know of but they don’t actually, you know they haven’t actually sucked the marrow out of it. They haven’t met the people, they haven’t walked through the terrain, they haven’t seen the beauty of the place at sunrise or sunset. That’s what we really went out to do. We are trying to get to external audiences to maybe change their view or their idea of what they think Africa is or Kenya is in particular because of last year, but also to internal audiences and telling people, there is more to your country, there is more to your region than what you think or what you were raised to believe. Go out there and see for yourself engage with people like us, consume our content but go out and do it yourself as well,” said Okoh.
Kenya’s image and tourism numbers took several hard hits after the 2007/2008 post election chaos. Following that has been a slew of corruption scandals and a series of terrorist attacks which have almost brought the tourism industry to its knees.
Members of One Touch say mainstream media coverage is skewed. They hope this exhibition will get people wondering about the many locations they captured and in turn create a hunger for new stories about Kenya and eventually the rest of Africa.
Portraits were a big focus for the collection. At the risk of seeming cliché, the photographers embarked on showcasing culture and traditional communities without stereotypes.
The exhibition drew a healthy number of photography enthusiasts, art lovers as well as curious onlookers who say they appreciated the challenge to see Kenya for themselves.
“These are things that we should explore in our films, these are things that we should showcase to the world and I am liking that beyond is an opportunity for the world and for Kenyans to just view ourselves in perspectives that we rarely do,” said Nicholas Lusili.
The photographs are also on sale for 100 U.S. dollars each with part of the proceeds going to the Hunger Free organisation.