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Boniface Mwangi
Re publica Accra 18 – Day 2 (44534526750) (cropped).jpg
Mwangi in 2018 holding Nanjala Nyabola's book
Born (1983-07-10) 10 July 1983 (age 40)
Nationality Kenyan
Occupation Photojournalist
2017 Halifax International Security Forum (38468648216) (cropped)Boniface Mwangi, Imad Mesdoua, Fauziya Ali
Mwangi (left) at the 2017 Halifax International Security Forum

Boniface Mwangi (born July 10, 1983) is a Kenyan photojournalist, politician and activist involved in social-political activism. He is known for his images of the post-election violence that hit Kenya in 2007 and 2008.

Early life

Mwangi was born in Taveta, Kenya, on the border with Tanzania. His mother was a businesswoman who traded across the border. Mwangi started living with his grandparents in Nyeri, Central Kenya, when he was six.

He later moved in with his mother in Nairobi's low-income suburb of Ngara, then a high-rise in Majengo, Githurai 45, before finally settling in Pangani. Mwangi dropped in and out of school during this period and helped his mother vend books.


When his mother died in 2000, Mwangi, then 17, decided he had to change if he was to survive. He joined a Bible school with the intention of becoming a pastor, and secured a diploma in biblical studies. Whilst at school he became interested in photography. He was influenced by the Kenyan photographer Mohamed Amin.

Despite not having a high school education, Mwangi managed to gain a place at a private journalism school. To fund his studies he had to continue selling books on the street, but soon began to gain experience as a photojournalist. He published photographs in the national newspaper The Standard, and in 2005 won his first photography prizes. Within three years he received international recognition as one of Africa's most promising photographers. He was awarded the 2008 and 2010 CNN Africa Photojournalist of the Year Award.

However, he put his photography career on hold, to work on Kenyan social justice.


Mwangi quit journalism after witnessing and documenting post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 as a newspaper photographer. He experienced posttraumatic stress and depression (and he was also directly affected having to move temporarily after people of his community were being threatened). More importantly, he was frustrated he had to cover the same politicians that had incited the violence but remained unpunished.

His first initiative was the project Picha Mtaani, Swahili for "photos in the street", showing photographs of the violence in 2007 after the national elections, between the different tribes. This traveling street exhibition was shown around the country for people to discuss reconciliation and promote national healing. Over 600,000 people saw the exhibition. This was later complemented by the documentary Heal the Nation, which was shown mostly in slum areas.

Following these initiatives Mwangi started to develop a stronger human rights stance in his work on fighting (political and corporate) impunity, speaking out against bad and corrupt political leadership, and promoting a message of peace for the elections planned for 2013 with initiatives called MaVulture and Team Courage. Team Courage is a Nairobi-based lobby that strives to enable a patriotic citizens' movement to take bold and effective actions in building a new Kenya.

His latest initiative is Pawa 254 which was launched in 2011, a hub and space for artists and activists to work together towards social change and advancing Human rights in Kenya.

Personal life

He is married to Hellen Njeri Mwangi, whom he works with at Pawa 254. They have three children.

Honours and awards

  • Time: Next Generation Leaders 2015
  • Mwangi was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2020.
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