Last fall I got to spend some time in Nairobi, a city that has changed much since the last time I’d been there. Today the streets pulse with people and it has the energy of a megacity, which it might be by now. Like all the great urban centers of Africa, it also has a growing community of writers, artists and photographers who are defining the city on their own terms. One of the best examples is a book I picked up called Nairobi: An exploration of a city by photographers and writers, put out by the literary cadre at Kwani?
It’s a gorgeous collection that evokes almost as many worlds as the city contains. Culled from 15,000 photos, it is meant to capture the city over a 24-hour span, along with thoughtful essays by some of the best new writers like Parselelo Kantai, David Kaiza and others. The range is breathtaking, from the bloody to the beautiful, from the glamour of Nairobi’s upper crust, to the grit it takes to survive at the bottom. Like the city itself, it is a book you can get lost in or lose yourself in, an ocean of images to sail across or sink into. It isn’t available to order yet, but you can get a taste at the 24 Nairobi website.