Meet Kenya's courageous Mau Mau fighters in Osborne Macharia's photographic narrative

In Macicio, a Kenyan photographer tells the story of his country's fight for independence through fictional, freedom fighters.

Macicio, the Kikuyu word for “spectacles,” is a fictional photographic narrative that imagines a set of characters based on a group of rebel fighters in Kenya who lead a revolt against the British in the 50s. The photo series is the work of contemporary Kenyan photographer, Osborne Macharia.

With a degree in architecture, the Nairobi-based photographer only carved out his career in commercial photography a couple of years ago, but since then he has already made a name for himself and established his own company, K63 Studio. Bouncing between advertising and personal projects, Macharia has developed a signature style characterised by creative lighting and storybook-type subjects that provoke the imagination.

Earlier in the year Macharia “set out to work on a series of fictional stories that were based on either historic imagery or contemporary imagination,” and Macicio is the first of this series. African fashion stylist and designer Kevo Abbra created the model’s customised costumes and spectacles to bring the fictional characters to life.

The photographer’s short prologue ascribes context to the photographic narrative:

“It tells a story of a special unit of Mau Mau fighters (guerilla freedom fighters during Kenya’s struggle for independence) that was made up of highly skilled opticians who created crude spectacles to identify and eliminate the enemy at night. Little is known about them until now.”

General Njuguna

Commander-in-chief of the unit. Fighter since the age of nine. The different stars represent the lives he has saved.

Second Commander Kigotho

The last man standing and only survivor from his previous battalion. He's always at the back of the group with his specially designed specs that spot the enemy from behind.

Kimani 'Ninja' Nganga

Hands-on fighter and front man in the pack. He's a master tracker and attributes his high level of senses to the wire dish on his jacket.


Communications expert and voice imitator, he uses the knobs attached to the mouthpiece on his specs to imitate five different animals using code language.

Karanja 'The Mole' Jere

Normally operates underground with his modified, underground-breathing suit. His hair is designed to appear like a rodent burrowing through the soil and his spectacles are telescopic. Able to see close to one kilometre away.

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