Osborne Macharia is a self-taught digital artist and photographer who has become one of east Africa’s most-in-demand photographers.
His work has been termed Afro-futuristic, which by one overarching description is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science and history. The work combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of black people, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.
In a different all-embracing portrayal Mantse Aryeequaye, co-founder of ACCRA [dot] ALT, an arts-promoting organisation in Ghana says “Afro-futurism is built on people remaking perceptions of themselves and an awareness of their power.”
The concept of Afro-futurism has been explored all over the continent in all forms of musical, cinematic and photographic expressions such as: the pop-hip-hop-techno group Die Antwoord (“The Answer” in Afrikaans), the Ethiopian post-apocalyptic film Crumbs (2015, dir. Miguel Llansó), the Kenyan science fiction short film Pumzi (2009, dir. Wanuri Kahiu), and Afronauts (2014, dir. Frances Bodomo), a surreal short film set in Zambia and directed by a Ghanaian American.
Osborne seeks to alter the landscape of African story telling stating that ‘Locally I do get quite a lot of people also saying how my work paints a different side to what Kenya is known for which, more often than not, seems to be negative. It’s all about changing the narrative at the end of the day.”
Some of his prolific projects include:
This is the story of a group of former female circumcisers living in the vast salty plains of Lake Magadi who abandoned their former practice and took up ethnic fashion as an alternative livelihood. They now shelter young girls escaping early marriage, teaching them on fashion skills such as styling, fashion design, print work and modeling for both local and international runways.
The tale is told in a series of pictures as well as part of the graphics of a new song “Atie” by Kenyan artist Blinky Bill x Mitya
The Story Revolves Around The Mau Mau (Guerilla Fighters During Kenya’s Struggle For Independence). Rumor Has It That Within The Mau Mau Fighters Was A Special Unit Of 5 Opticians Who Hand Crafted Special Made Spectacles That They Used To Spot The Enemy At Night.
The dreams and aspirations of people living with albinism.
Africans have had their ancestry and history systematically erased and rewritten causing many to become accustomed to living parallel realities. The continent is awakening and reaching for their most authentic past thus discarding history books told to the advantage and vantage point of colonialists to instead listen at the feet of elders rapt to stories of a time when the people of their lands were also the rulers of the land. These accounts allow an imagining of alternative realities ultimately helping Africans to piece together their relationship with the past.
In addition to these hidden histories, stories of alternative magical worlds appear across African cultures altogether birthing a concept and ideology crossing realms and generations.
See more of his projects and work here.