What you need to know:
- When I dreamed of being a really successful architect 10 years ago, I never imagined I would get here, just because of taking pictures.
- I get shocked all the time, especially because I don’t consider myself the best photographer in the country.
1. Do you think formal education can adequately nurture one’s art career?
Absolutely not. I don’t think learning photography in school will make you a better photographer. Now that I have already established myself, I can go back to school, but not to learn how to take pictures. I will be going back to learn interesting theoretical stuff such as the history of photography. By the way, I detest being told what to do or when to do it.
2. Have you always been this way?
I can’t remember the first time I realised it, but growing up, I always hated being told what to do. Not because I wasn’t going to obey the orders, but because I wasn’t going to do so immediately. I understand, for instance, that my mother wanted me to do things at her convenience because she needed me to be obedient, but she came to understand that I truly loved and respected her, but I just wasn’t going to jump at her every command.
3. So, why did you study architecture?
I believe there is no course that can stimulate one’s creative juices like architecture. With this subject, you learn so much. In first year, you attend fine art classes where you draw so much – often without using rulers! We would be taken to the city and be asked to draw the old Parliament building.
We were expected to figure out how to put the things we saw to paper, drawing and fitting everything to scale without using any tools – only our hands and brains. And isn’t that what art is about? Also, the course takes six years, and that teaches you a lot about endurance, which is an important attribute in business. We also spent several hours critiquing objects, buildings and artefacts, which is another important artistic skill.
4. Was there something you said you would never ever do after you finished school?
Yes. Washing my clothes. My mother made do my laundry from when I was 12 years old because she wanted me to grow into a responsible adult. She always hired a house help, but only for herself. The help would be washing my mother’s clothes, and I would be right there next to her, washing mine.
I went to boarding school aged 14 and since I didn’t come from a privileged background, I had only two shirts, meaning I had to wash one of them every day. At first, when I met my wife, she was willing to wash my clothes even though I didn’t really think it was important. After washing them once, she also quit doing laundry, forever!
5. So you are an architect whose works of art have been featured on Beyoncé’s website. How do you explain that?
It is inexplicable. Unimaginable. Even when I dreamed of being a really successful architect 10 years ago, I never imagined I would get here, just because of taking pictures. I get shocked all the time, especially because I don’t consider myself the best photographer in the country.
I am enjoying this phase, but when I think about it, really, it means that there was someone somewhere who thought it important to feature a Kenyan photographer on their website, for the curation section, and then someone else gave the green light. And then they sat down, I assume, and looked at my work, and they said, “We definitely need this person here.” That sounds quite wild to me!