Young at heart

CityPress - - t# - Gar­reth.van­niek­erk@city­

Fol­low­ing on from his to­tally fab­u­lous se­ries of pho­to­graphs look­ing at Kenya’s “league of ex­trav­a­gant grannies”, Nairobi-based ar­chi­tect/pho­tog­ra­pher Os­borne Macharia re­turns with a new set of images that brings the shim­mer back to the golden years of some of Africa’s most wonderful grand­pas.

Macharia tells the story of the Ka­bangu, a lit­tle­known group from Kar­i­obangi, an in­for­mal set­tle­ment in Nairobi. They’re “watch­men by night, hip-hop heads by day”, Macharia says. “A group of real hip-hop heads from the 80s who meet up reg­u­larly to ed­u­cate and men­tor young tal­ent. They teach them val­ues such as peace, equal­ity, pros­per­ity and so­cial jus­tice.” It’s the dream sub­ject of ev­ery por­traitist. Macharia uses his unique take on stu­dio-style photography – well-lit; ob­vi­ously posed; fash­ion­ably styled; and hy­per, en­hanced de­tail – with his own pen­chant for colour to draw at­ten­tion to the el­e­ments of his sub­ject that are so defini­tively “them”. Just look at “Nairob­bery” so beau­ti­fully scrawled across the chest of one of the men.

His abil­ity to take youth cul­ture and spin it on to older bod­ies cre­ates a jux­ta­po­si­tion that is so fresh, and so nec­es­sary, and gets us to ask if age is just a state of mind. Bring on Youth Day in all its forms.

For more of Macharia’s work, head to k63s­tu­

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