After Kenyan photojournalist Priya Ramrakha was killed on assignment in Biafra, Nigeria, in 1968, his photographic legacy and archive vanished. Four decades later, Erin Haney and Shravan Vidyarthi found his prints and negatives in Nairobi. Covered in dust and all but forgotten, the 100,000 images that make up his archive trace the short life of one of the most prolific photographers of Africa’s independence movements in the 1950s and 1960s.
Before his death in his early 30s, Ramrakha rose to international fame as one of the first African photographers published in Time and Life magazines. He worked intensely, documenting the hopes and chaos of independence movements in Zanzibar, Congo, Yemen and Nigeria. He also photographed Miriam Makeba, a notable leader of the Pan-African movement.
He worked in the United States, too, capturing civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
“In an era of liberation movements, Ramrakha drew attention to the untold stories and sacrifices that ordinary people took in extraordinary conditions,” write Haney and Vidyarthi in a statement about Priya Ramrakha, to be published by Kehrer Verlag in October 2018.
Priya Ramrakha is the first book to present photographs from Ramrakha’s recovered archive c.1950-1968.
“Sensitive and nuanced, the majority of his work went unpublished,” continue Haney and Vidyarthi. “Today, seen for the first time, they offer new narratives, disrupting and reimagining what we thought we knew about struggle, solidarity and connections within Africa and beyond.”