“I’m a strong believer in the growth of our continent and I’m not turning back. I want to be part of this success story. Through my lens I have seen and captured amazing dreams, hope and resilience. Africa is making huge leaps forward. So if you thought Africa was a poor place: think again.”
Photographer Felix Masi has travelled round the continent sharing the same message and painting exquisite pictures of his dear continent; Africa.
His aim is to preach the good news that many fail to see or just refuse to tell, dispel stereotypes and spread an unbiased and truthful message of the continent he takes pride in; with gripping pictures that show the real face of Africa.
“I’m confronting the social ills that have been the face of this continent only known for its tragedies,” Masi tells This is Africa, “Through my photography, I try to divert from what is commonly known in foreign eyes as the 3Ds: death, disease and despair. Africa is so different than that.”
Born and raised in Kisumu, Western Kenya to a single mother, Felix Masi and his siblings were orphaned at an early age, and kept in the care of foster parents. Life became even tougher for the children, who had to endure several terrible conditions. They were later taken away from the home by their grandmother and sent to live with their relatives.
Masi’s Photojournalism career is born out of a passion for photography and the need to present a clear picture of Africa to the world. He was exposed to the cameras early by his mother, an avid photographer, who regularly documented her children’s early years until her death when Masi was only eight years old. Masi was fortunate to be one of the children in Kenya to receive a high school education. Upon graduation, he launched his career as a photojournalist in his first job at a leading local newspaper in Kenya.
In 1996, Masi lost his brother, Dennis to HIV/AIDS. This unfortunate incident, combined with his personal drive and a life of witnessing Africa’s struggle with the disease, inspired young Masi to quit his job at a newspaper house where he worked at the time to begin his journey as an independent photo-journalist focused on humanitarian crises.
In 2005, with a vision to help the women and children in his community chart a better life path, Masi founded Voiceless Children, an organization that caters for the education of children and also supply resources that help grandmothers care for their dependents.
The same year, he was selected to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
The pro photojournalist understands that the true African story can only be told by Africans themselves and not foreigners who do not have a good understanding of the continent or who sometimes twist the tale to suit their interests.
“Most of the stories about our continent have been told by foreigners; first journalists flying in for a news story and nowadays more and more by tourists who have no idea or understanding of Africa and the countries they transit through while on vacation. The problem is that they all have a blog, social media and smartphones for instant updates – which is fine – but the problem is that their stories are not a true representation of reality and are mostly one-sided. Yet they get sent into the world and judged by others who know even less.”
Masi’s journey hasn’t been without challenges and disappointments, yet, he remains unwavering in his dedication as he fixes his gaze on the new Africa. In his opinion, Africa is blessed with so much, exceptional entrepreneurs, fast growing economy, world class technology to mention a few, and so, he chooses to focus on them, to point the world to them rather than focus on the ills.
“Countries like Kenya and Nigeria are ahead when it comes to technological advances and Nairobi and Lagos count as hubs for international photography. We’re making big steps forward, but also still have a long way to go. That’s why it’s important to photograph a “New Africa” and, instead of going to the slums in those cities, focus on the banking, IT and other progressive businesses; positive stories, though it’s easier to sell negative images. That is the part which needs to change and what I’m fighting for with my photography.”
The young change agent is an Alumnus of a Visiting Program in Leadership and recipient of multiple prestigious awards. He has also produced an award winning short film called “Hands of Love” through support from Adobe Youth Voices and Listen Up!. He covered a White House African Youth Summit participant for Interface Media Group (IMG)
Masi sees Africa as a true beacon of hope for the world, and so he continues to travel round the world, sharing hope and projecting the new Africa.
*quotes culled from This is Africa.