Meet Kabangu, Kenya's hip hop grandpas. Having started their careers in the 80s, they teach would-be rising stars the important values in life such as upholding peace, equality, prosperity and social justice. Little had been known about them up until now...
Security guards by night, hip hop heads by day, the band live in Kariobangi - Nairobi's informal settlements. An enthusiastic group of hip hop aficionados, they meet regularly to educate and mentor young upcoming talent. Or so it seems...
The group had remained in relative obscurity until recently - perhaps because they never existed. Kabangu are the fictional creations of Kenyan digital photographer Osborne Macharia and stylist Kevin Abraham, in their latest editorial series. The bands nonexistence has not limited them gathering over half a million views online. Some believed the group were real.
"It's a way of telling our stories, in our own different kind of way", says Osborne Macharia. "I think for so long Africa has been known to be a continent of war, poverty, disease, famine and so on. Sometimes when we actually travel outside and show images of back home people are always shocked and say that's not what I know about Africa from what I see in the media" he explains, adding it's "just to show people that yes we have our own issues but there is more to it, there is beauty, there is life and positive energy, there is fun".
The artists imagine rich backstories for their characters. Kenya's league of extravagant grannies -- another fictional ensemble -- were once corporate and government leaders in the 1970's but are now retired. They live the high life traveling to exotic and remote areas within Africa to explore, party and enjoy themselves in exclusivity.
Mrs. Kamau Njuguna - former governor, central bank of Kenya (1980-1985) - Macharia and Abraham managed to catch up with three of these group of extraordinary grannies in Somalia soon after they landed. Little had been known about them until now...Many online believed the grandmothers were real, some posting that they wanted to meet them and that the women's efforts had given them "life goals".
Mau Mau were guerilla fighters during Kenya's struggle for independence. Macharia and Abraham created an editorial series focused on them - where they became an elite group of freedom fighting opticians. In Kikuyu - one of the main languages in Kenya - Macicio translates to spectacles.
Karanja 'the mole' jere: normally operates underground with his modified underground breathing suite. His hair is designed to appear like a rodent burrowing through the soil and he's spectacles are telescopic able to see close to one kilometer away.
Nyakundi: communications expert and voice imitator, he uses the knobs attached to the mouth piece on his spectacles to imitate five different animals using code language.
Camo, 2015. The series of images aims to celebrate the beauty of African fabrics and is a joint collaboration between Kevin Abraham and fellow digital photographer Thandiwe Muriu.
"It was just a simple concept to celebrate the African prints, something that any African can relate to", says Kevin Abraham. "I chose to work with prints because at that time the textile industry in Kenya was facing a lot of issues in terms of bureaucracy and challenges to textile production in the country", he says adding I though "the best way to make this situation better and to put a different perspective of positivity to was to create these works".
"I wanted to make it diverse or different from any images you've come across so hence the colors and spectacles" says Abraham.
Afro Juba, 2015. The concept was to celebrate both African hairstyles as well as childhood games. The hairstyles were created by Kenyan locals Richard Kinyua and Corrine Muthoni. "Each image was representing a certain childhood game that all Kenyans identify with" says Macharia.
Pictured: Afro Juba 2015. Duf_Mpararo - Skinny dipping in tadpole infested water. "Once Kenyans identified with it, we also started to realize that many Africans go through the same thing. I think that's what makes this project really stand out" explains Macharia.
Afro Juba, 2015. Muwindo - Hunting for quails and other small birds. Skinny dipping in dirty water and hunting for quails were all childhood games many people could identify with, say Kevin Abraham and Osborne Macharia. "We used to it in Kenya but you find people from different countries, from Nigeria, from Ghana and from South Africa say yes we used to do that as well", adds Macharia.