World-renowned Kenyan photographer visits Austin College - - No One Gets You Closer

World-renowned Kenyan photographer visits Austin College


SHERMAN -- Boniface Mwangi has come as close to police brutality and political turmoil in Kenya as his camera lens would let him, and his bravery has paid off.

Images the world-renowned photographer captured during the past seven years have earned him international recognition.

Tuesday, he shared his story to students at Austin College. His lecture, "Never Again! The Struggle for Peace and Reconciliation in Kenya," was free and open to the public.

"I knew Boniface from high school," sophomore Suzanne Francis said. "I went to one of his talks in Kenya and then he came to my high school in Kinshasa, Congo. So I Facebook messaged him and was just like ‘Hey, would you be willing to come to Austin College because he's always been an inspirational person for me.'"

Mwangi started out covering police brutality in the neighborhoods where he grew up.

He was hired at a Kenyan newspaper but it was during post-election violence in 2007 -- which left more than 1000 people dead -- that he says he started to see his work as a vehicle for social change.

"My work was about showing the poverty levels in the country. It was about showing the everyday life of poor people which was not common in the papers every other time," he said. "Here I was an insider because I was living in the community showing that."

Displays of his work in towns across Kenya became just as controversial as the actions he captured. They've even landed him in jail.

Still, he maintains his images are a reminder of a time his country should never repeat, and draw attention to problems that span the globe.

"It's a contrast. We may not be like America. Our communities are totally different but the problems that we all face are universal," he said. 

At 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, Mwangi's free exhibit "Never Again!" will open in Ross Gallery of Forster Arts Complex. Mwangi also will speak at the College's Amnesty International Awareness Dinner on "Democracy and Human Rights" Wednesday, April 10, at 6 p.m. in Mabee Hall of Wright Campus Center.