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Osborne Macharia Makes History as Only Kenyan to be Apart of the Cannes Lions Jury

by Shelby Hawkins on June 12, 2018

Osborne Macharia is making history as the only Kenyan selected to be apart of the Cannes Lions Awards 2018 Jury.

He expressed his gratitude on Instagram writing, “In the midst of such brilliant and creative minds judging at Cannes Lion 2018 will be this young Kenyan representing Kenya for the very first time. What an honuor.”

The Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity is a global event for individuals working in creative communications, advertising and related fields.

Cannes Lions, which was inspired by the Cannes Film Festival, was established in 1954, so the upcoming event is celebrating its 64th anniversary.

This year’s gala begins on June 18th through June 22nd.

Who Is Osborne Macharia?

Macharia is a self-taught photographer based in Nairobi, Kenya whose style reflects Afrofuturism, a recurring theme in many current African creatives’ work.

On his website he explains what the Afrofuturism genre means to him:

“An artistic repurpose of the post-colonial African narrative through integrating historical elements, present culture and future aspirations of people of color by using narrative, fantasy and fiction to highlight African identity.”

As an artist, he adheres to three key principles: culture, fiction and identity.

In a 2017 interview, Macharia reveals why these principles are significant to his artistry, “My work is influenced by 3 principles; Culture, Identity, and Fiction. These are the filter parameters I use that my work still remains relevant and impactful at this day and age. Sometimes not all the principles are represented but at least 2 of the three elements have to be present in any given project.

Macharia has collaborated with various industries including companies like Disney, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Pepsi and Mercedes Benz just to name a few.

Most notably, Macharia was commissioned last February by Marvel Studios to shoot exclusive photos of the Wakanda elders.


Osborne Macharia defines Black Excellence by reminding the community that there are still records to be broken and new ideas are always welcome.

As an Afrofuturist, there is an incredible understanding of the past that does not just seek to interpret possibilities for the future; it seeks to reaffirm Africans’ position in today’s society in an inventive way.

Much of Macharia’s work showcases Black people staring directly at the camera, thus taking control of their own story. He may even shoot a well-dressed man wearing western-style clothing in front of a poor community.

These photos omit a powerful emotion because they are personal. It is exhilarating to not only see an African artist do so well in a commercial and mainstream environment, but it is also incredible because he rose to fame by producing art about Africa and Africans.

His work is personal yet a wide audience is able to appreciate it.

In an interview with Shoko Press, Macharia explains why he prefers to create projects that are personal to him:

I believe personal projects help strengthen your style and language as an artist/photographer. The more you execute these projects on your own the more you figure out a lot about yourself and your workflow that will eventually determine what you’ll be hired for. With time these projects have become my own tools of expression in that no one will direct you or influence your work as in the case with client work. You can do whatever you want how you want it as long as it’s an honest reflection of who you are as an artist.

Where Can Macharia’s Work Be Seen?

Osborne Macharia’s award winning project, Black to The Future, can be found in Dubai, UAE.

Nairobi, Kenya is home to his 2017 project called NO TOUCH AM.

Macharia works on the set of OWN’s critically acclaimed show Queen Sugar as a director of photography as well.

Of course in a digital world all of his work can be found online also.


Featured Image via

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Shelby Hawkins
My name is Shelby, like the mustang, and I am an avid lover of photography, literature and desserts. I identify as a proud feminist and Pan-Africanist; hopefully that manifests in my writing.