The power of photography in promoting our culture

We love our diverse cultures and rural areas that have breathtaking tranquility and seasonal chirps of the birds. We have more than 40 tribes in the country and all of them speak different languages and follow unique customs that attract tourists in the country. Through photography, these customs and ways of life are documented and showcased on different platforms across the world. Tentatively, one may say photography is the only avenue that should be encompassed in the promotion of tourism in the country.

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As a Kenyan photographer I always love capturing the best Maasai moments in the southern regions of the country. Some media practitioners claim that humanity is defined by its images and feature stories. The art of imagery started in the Stone Age period when man started drawing stuff on the rocks and caves to pass particular information. This art has grown tremendously over the years and photographers are now documenting every detail in a card.

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“Images are significant surfaces…. Images signify- mainly- something ‘out there’ in space and time that they have to make comprehensible to us as abstractions (as reductions of the four dimensions of space and time to the two surface dimensions)” writes Vilém Flusser. “Images are mediations between the world and human beings. Human beings ‘ex-ist,’ i.e. the world is not immediately accessible to them and therefore images are needed to make it comprehensible.”

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I like the Maasai because they are loyal to their ways and the world recognizes the red colors that the tribe uses in most of their dressing and weapons. The community has a good number of ceremonies which include Enkipaata (senior boy ceremony), Emuratta (circumcision), Enkiama (marriage), Eunoto (warrior-shaving ceremony), Eokoto e-kule (milk-drinking ceremony), Enkang oo-nkiri (meat-eating ceremony), Olngesherr (junior elder ceremony), etc.

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In addition, there are ceremonies for boys and girls minor including, Eudoto/Enkigerunoto oo-inkiyiaa (earlobe), and Ilkipirat (leg fire marks). Traditionally, boys and girls must undergo through these initiations for minors prior to circumcision. However, many of these initiations concern men while women’s initiations focus on circumcision and marriage.  Men will form age-sets moving them closer to adulthood.

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According to the Maasai, women do not have their own age set but they are recognized by that of their husbands. Each ceremony signifies something in a person’s life cycle. They are rites of passage, and every Maasai child is eager to go through these vital stages of life. Following is where a boy’s life begins in the Maasai society.

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The country has other tribes but they are not as strict as the Maasai, this has been influenced by urbanization and globalization. However, memories are stored in photos and future generations are able to view their ancestry ways of life.

The 21st generation has its own culture which is hugely exposed on social media platforms and renowned cities. The culture changes very fast so it’s important to keep up with the trends; the evolving trends have necessitated photographers to refine their craft in photography and video because the world is filled with creative minds.

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