There is a monochromatic Africa in my mind, an expansive wash of earth and sky that lives in tones of dusty browns and muted greens and soft sky blues and grays. It is the Africa of safaris and jeeps and dusty roads and wide plains and animals that match in tone the muted browns and grays and tans and yellows of this sub-Saharan wonderland. It is born free, and it lacks color and vibrancy. Africa is this, but it is so much more.
Kenya is a land of contrasts, and Kenya will quicken your heart beat with wild, committed, vibrant colors in pairings that surprise and astonish. Kenya is a riot of color.
Here are six of my favorite colorful photographs that I took during my past three months in Kenya.
In Nakuru Town I watched out of the hotel window to the street corner where men who transported people on bicycles waited for passengers. This man wiped down his bicycle between passengers, at one in color composition with his bicycle, his cap, and his clear love for all things Jamaican.
I never fail to be impressed by the colors of the bird of paradise, whether in Hawaii or Nairobi, a plant so proud of its color combination, so willing to make a bold choice.
To cross the Thika Highway one should use the ‘flyover’, the pedestrian bridges meant to keep people from running across the highway between speeding cars. I use the flyover. Below me a vendor was selling shilling candies in a riot of color.
I watched this wedding party as they waited to have their official pictures taken, a purple and lilac and fuchsia explosion.
I saw an African stage show called The Safari Cats at the Nyama Choma Ranch, a theme park explosion of dancers and acrobats. I chose not to eat flame grilled camel or crocodile, but I did enjoy the riot of color and energy on stage, familar, yet uniquely Kenyan.
And I will never forget the line of Massai men, heading straight toward me, effortlessly jumping and singing loudly, and the sounds of their jewelry clanging, with red, red, red everywhere.
Kenya is this.
And Kenya is Coca-Cola Red and M-Pesa Green.