Dreamy portraits of Kenyan street life

Dreamy portraits of Kenyan street life
The Travel Diary — US photographer Makena Mambo returns to her roots for her latest project, capturing the vibrant, colourful chaos of Nairobi, Nakuru, Narok, Mombasa and Kilifi.

Capturing the raw essence and beauty of Kenya was truly a life-changing journey for me, as it was an opportunity to travel back to my roots for the first time in my life. Although I was aware of the current political and economic corruption that taints the country, the hustle of the people and indescribable beauty of the landscapes felt like magic to me.

Being a child of immigrant parents, raised in the US, it was imperative for me to experience just a small piece of their life. I stayed in the same village they grew up in, and listening to the stories of their youth from family members. It strengthened my appreciation of the life I have today.

Unlike the average tourist,  I was meeting and living with my extended family, who stretch across different cities in Kenya, including Nairobi, Nakuru, Narok, Mombasa and Kilifi. I was submerged in authentic environments, and documenting the lives of the local people.

Being taken to these locations made me realise what it takes to keep going in life amidst struggles and hardships. Kenyans are diligent and creative with their entrepreneurship; whether it be selling goods such as fruits, clothes, souvenirs and jewellery in the middle of the streets while dodging speeding traffic, to the dense marketplaces, the boda-boda motorbike taxis. Even the hand-carved wooden furniture sold on the side of the road left me in awe of the craftsmanship.

Although there are still so many places that my eyes and camera have yet to capture, I felt enriched knowing my solo journey to connect with my heritage continues to shape my mindset and passion for storytelling. It helped me understand and absorb all the emotions, colours, sights and smells that are all distinctive to a place and the people.

See more of Makena Mambo’s work on her official website, or follow her on Instagram.

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

Surreal scenes from the streets of Tokyo
Photography

Surreal scenes from the streets of Tokyo

A new book by photographer Feng Li uses images of strange encounters to explore the historical centre of street photography.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Re-enchanted England: Exploring Paganism and Folklore
Culture

Re-enchanted England: Exploring Paganism and Folklore

A new book dives into the ancient traditions and rituals that many are turning to in an age of uncertainty, crisis and climate breakdown.

Written by: Thomas Andrei

Inside London’s Museum of Sex
Culture

Inside London’s Museum of Sex

For two days only a derelict house in south east London will become a hub of artwork exploring eroticism, sexuality, gender, and the body.

Written by: Brit Dawson

Why is Neil Diamond’s mega-hit ‘Sweet Caroline’ so intoxicating for sports fans?
Outdoors

Why is Neil Diamond’s mega-hit ‘Sweet Caroline’ so intoxicating for sports fans?

During this summer’s edition of the Euros, one certainty is the ubiquity of Diamond’s 1969 hit. But how and why did it gain such a storied place in England fans’ hearts? Jimmy McIntosh investigates.

Written by: Jimmy McIntosh

Can things only get better, again?
Election 2024

Can things only get better, again?

With the re-emergence of D:Ream’s euphoric 1993 hit and a ’97 style Labour landslide looking likely, Hannah Ewens dives deep into the creation of Cool Britannia, and asks experts whether it could be repeated again.

Written by: Hannah Ewens

The activists fighting the mental health crisis
Election 2024

The activists fighting the mental health crisis

Micha Frazer-Carroll examines the way the mental health crisis has escalated in the last five years and meets those organising to end it.

Written by: Micha Frazer-Carroll

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now