Africa 3.0 is a documentary project about Africa at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Urban Africa is currently one of the most dynamic places in this world. Africa is since 1950 the continent with the highest global urbanization speed (source: UNFPA).
As metaphor: If Europe is version 1.0, Africa goes straight to version 3.0, while jumping over version 2.0. The rapid urbanization of Africa might be in many ways compared with the urbanization and industrialization of Europe in the 19th and early 20th century, though it is in many ways also quite different, particular also due to the presence of 21st century technology and media in this process.
In Nairobi, a key moment is currently happening. Up to the decolonization of Kenya in 1963, black people were not allowed to permanently settle in Nairobi. After decolonization and the subsequent abandoning of the Kenyan version of Apartheid, a booming trek from the rural areas to Nairobi started.
While the first generation coming to Nairobi after 1963 maintained links with the rural areas they came from, their children became the first urban generation of Kenya.It is this first urban generation which has started to change the current Kenya drastically, as well by their population figures, as well by their urban cultural background.
Though, in the world outside Africa, the image of Africa is still another one. The popular image of Africa is still a continent populated with noble savages, suffering hardship from war, famine and the lack of basic commodities. Africans are seen as life forms can’t yet really deal with (modern) human life and need therefore assistance in survival from the rest of the world. As much as war, hardship and poverty is definitely still a part of reality in Africa, it is not the only singular reality. The ‘other reality’ of Africans being happy to live in Africa and struggling with the challenges of life comparable to other humans in other parts of the world is hardly to be seen in the media.
I therefore started to document the rapidly changing environment around me. Without overlooking the ‘hardship’ stereotypes about Africa and Africans, I try to depict a more balanced & multifaceted image, starting in Kenya. As examples, I document the attacks on slum villages by corrupted police officers, I photograph the clubs of Nairobi and the roaring parties in them, ambitious athletes, the fight for democracy, shows of contemporary artists, dancers and musicians, dancing prisoners, weddings in between tradition and online dating services, clueless village children in United Nations events, I photograph people trying to keep a balance in a rapid changing world, in short, I photograph the culture I am part of.
Realizing that I am witnessing history while it is being made, I decided to lift many of the images out of the daily reality and tried to make them timeless by rendering images on the border of photography and painting out of them.