‘I think it’s really important to document the scene and show people what skateboarding is like here, in Nairobi.’
You are the designated local photographer of the Kenyan skateboard community. How did you end up with this role?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m the designated photographer. There are so many amazing artists around but I think it’s all about showing up and being consistent. I’ve been causally involved in the community since about March 2021 but I started to get seriously involved in September. We have skate sessions every Saturday at UoN, in the streets or previously at Uhuru Park – sadly not for a while as it’s been going under “renovations” and its at these sessions where I take most of my photos/film. They have also become some of my closest friends and It’s such a wholesome community. I think it’s really important to document the scene and show people what skateboarding is like here, in Nairobi.
Capturing the local skateboard community through your lense, what are some of your observations when interacting with skaters, police, government and general public in relation to skateboarding?
With skateboarders it has always been a very positive experience, a lot of people want to be photographed or filmed. It has created such a beautiful part of my life that I’m very grateful for. Now, with the police I’ve never really witnessed any issues other than about masks in town. I also try to make sure that I don’t take my camera out in direct view of them when we’re in those areas.
We usually skate at UoN where there usually aren’t any police. There’s only been one time where we’ve been told to leave and that was by the custodian and we just went to a different spot. The issues I’ve faced with the government are the “renovations” currently taking place at Uhuru park as mentioned before. UP has been an iconic spot for Kenyan skateboarders for over 20 years.
I shot my first skate photos there actually. A few days ago we saw videos of the entire platform/the gap being torn down. Nairobi already has very limited places to skate freely and UP belongs to the public, so this was quite upsetting to see. We need safe, accessible spots. The government should be nurturing the community instead of destroying its history. The general public usually enjoy watching and even get involved sometimes. You will get people who want get on your board and try. A few weeks ago we were next to the football fields and a player even asked to have his photo taken while he attempted to ride.