Interview
Courtesy of Osborne Macharia

In Conversation with Osborne Macharia: 'There is no excuse to creating sub-standard work just because it’s from ‘Africa’.'

The Kenyan photographer talks about his Afrofuturistic photoshoot for Africa's biggest horse racing and fashion event—the Durban July.

Osborne Macharia is a Kenyan visual artist and fine art photographer with an exquisite eye that is committed to capturing the unique and endless creative realities of the African continent. Back in 2016, Macharia created NYANYE, a stunningly refreshing editorial that photographed badass grannies "who were once corporate and government leaders in the 1970s but are now retired" and are now a part of Kenya's League of Extravagant Grannies, according to Macharia.

A few months later, he followed that body of work with a collective entitled Kabangu which captured eccentric hip-hop grandpas. Then last year, Marvel commissioned Macharia to create exclusive artwork for Black Panther wherein he introduced the world to the three "Blind Elders of Wakanda".

This year, Macharia is back with an Afrofuturistic photoshoot with Vodacom Red and South African designers Laduma Ngxokolo, Sindiso Khumalo and Rina Chunga Kutuma for this year's Durban July—South Africa (and Africa's) biggest annual horse racing and fashion extravaganza. The Durban July is currently underway and this year's theme is "Once Upon an African Future". The photoshoot seeks to create materials that personify Afrofuturism through combining historical elements, the present culture as well as the future aspirations of people of color whilst simultaneously creating universes that one wouldn't normally see.

We caught up with the visual artist to find out what Afrofuturism means to him as well as how he and his collaborators hope to shake the space up at this year's Durban July.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep reading... Show less
Art
Image courtesy of Osborne Macharia

Osborne Macharia Introduces the 3 Blind Elders of Wakanda In Exclusive 'Black Panther' Artwork

The Kenyan visual artist was commissioned by Marvel to create original artwork for the film.

Kenyan artist and fine art photographer, Osborne Macharia, is a master at creating alternate black universes. Macharia envisions a world where Kenyan women freedom fighters with opulent hair and hip-hop grannies reign supreme. That's perhaps, why the folks at Marvel, commissioned the artist to create original artwork for their afrofuturistic masterpiece, Black Panther.

"When I was approached by Marvel to create an exclusive art piece for Black Panther, I was excited at the fact that finally the world is seeing what we are doing in Kenya and Africa in general," the artist tells OkayAfrica.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Watch Blinky Bill, Nneka & Osborne Macharia's Afrofuturist Video For 'No Touch Am'

The video tells the story of 3 Hausa herbal men and animal charmers from the Northern State of Katsina in Nigeria, turned stylish protectors of the forest.

Last year Blinky Bill (formerly from Just A Band) released his first solo EP, We Cut Keys While You Wait, to much acclaim.

Now the Kenyan beat maker is back and giving us a taste of what's to come in his greatly anticipated, forthcoming debut solo album, Everyone's Just Winging It and Other Fly Tales.

Directed by Osborne Macharia and Andrew Mageto, his new video for "No Touch Am" featuring German-Nigerian singer Nneka is a visual delight. Macharia is a Kenyan photographer whose popular personal projects portray Kenyan women in powerful positions.

"The video tells the story of 3 Hausa herbal men and animal charmers from the Northern State of Katsina in Nigeria, turned stylish protectors of the forest," Blinky Bill writes in an e-mail to OkayAfrica.

"The wild animals they once domesticated and used as domestic pets (a tradition passes down from their ancestors) are now expert trackers. Now both man and beast roam the forests at night seeking out illegal firewood harvesters while protecting indigenous flora."

Check out the video below.

Photos

Video: Meet the Kenyan Photographer Behind Hip-Hop Grandpas and Female Freedom Fighters

Kenyan photographer Osborne Macharia opens up in this video about the inspiration behind his jaw dropping photo projects.

The first time you see Osborne Macharia's work is a moment you'll never quite forget. We've been following him for years now and every new photo-project he produces stops us mid click. They're surreal images of the highest order—the kind of thing that while obviously fiction, you so badly want to be real that your brain makes them real.

Everything he does now get picked up internationally, inspiring credulous stories in the press about extravagant Kenyan grannies and hip hop grandpas. Our favorite project is probably the images of Kenya's female freedom fighters with opulent hair but everything he does, including his commercial work, has that sense of otherworldliness to it which has brought him wide acclaim. In the video above he talks about how everything he does is about "fiction, culture and identity" and that the key to his work is to keep refining the concept. Watch to see how this Kenyan photography master composes and produces his photo series and all the behind the scenes work from his team of creatives that it takes to make these images.

Some of his projects we've covered in the past are:

This Extravagant League Of Kenyan Grannies Is The Ultimate In #SquadGoals

 

Check Out This Kenyan Collective of Eccentric Hip-Hop Grandpas

Concept & Photography: Osborne Macharia

Osborne Macharia on Honoring Kenya’s Female Freedom Fighters with Opulent Hair

Bobo. Photo by Osborne Macharia.

Perspective is a series produced by East African speaker bureau and talent agency African Speakers + Artists (AS+A) profiling Kenyan photographers. AS+A is committed to illuminating the perspectives and amplifying the voices of dynamic African speakers and artists. The photographers are represented by partner agency ProKraft Africa. Special thanks to Blinky Bill for the music featured on this video.

 

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.