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East Africa Fellow

Boniface Mwangi

2012

Boniface Mwangi is one of the most vocal and courageous Kenyans of our generation. Recognized globally for his passion and excellence in photography, this photographer-cum-activist could not resist the call to activism after witnessing, first-hand, the brutality that disadvantaged Kenyans experienced in the wake of the Post- Election Violence of 2008. He then established Picha Mtaani, a traveling photography exhibition showcasing images of the violence. The travelling photo exhibition toured across Kenya and drew more than 2 million visitors. The exhibition tour offered a platform for individual reflection, honest dialogue, interpersonal healing and community reconciliation. In 2012 Boniface founded PAWA254, a hub for creatives in Kenya, where journalists, artists and activists find innovative ways of achieving social change. At 34, he has been a guest of the state on many occasions for championing justice and calling out powerful leaders for their wanton corruption and blatant violation of human rights. This has earned him friends and foes alike. His commitment to promote social change has also come at a heavy price. As a husband and father, his wife and children have endured hostilities from different quarters. The escalation of these hostilities has seen him being threatened with harm and/or death by powerful forces in government. Like many Kenyans with a challenging upbringing, where basic needs were not always met, Boniface Mwangi is all too familiar with the struggles of the ordinary Kenyan. He has worked as a bus-park sweeper, house-boy and hawker. He even served time in Approved School. Despite monumental odds, he has risen, discovering photography at a young age and applying his entrepreneurial brilliance to break free from the clutches of poverty. Those who have worked with Boniface Mwangi can attest to his diligence, compassion and self-drive. He has twice won the CNN Multichoice Africa Photojournalist of the Year Award and is the youngest Prince Claus Laureate. New African Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2014 and 2016 and he is also a senior TED Fellow. Time magazine recognized him as a Next Generation Leader in 2015 and he was selected as Kenya’s Top 40 under 40 men in 2016. Boniface Mwangi continues to wage a spirited campaign against oppressive establishments. Although at one point he stood alone, today his movement has gained traction with many – inspired by his vision and consistency – adding their voices to champion for a better Kenya. After years of agitating from the sidelines, Boniface Mwangi sought the people’s mandate to take the struggle inside the establishment. He vied for the position of MP in Starehe Constituency, one whose cracks and crannies he is all too familiar with, having called it home for a good part of his youth. Though unsuccessful in his first attempt to enter Parliament, he has a track record you can count on and vows to continue speaking courage fluently, because the people of Kenya deserve better. Boniface and his wife Njeri Mwangi are the loving parents of 3 adorable children. He is also the author of Unbounded – a poignant and riveting memoir that captures his incredible journey.

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