Boniface Mwangi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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 39)
Mwangi (left) at the 2017 Halifax International Security Forum

Boniface Mwangi (born July 10, 1983)[1][2][3] 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[edit]

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.[4]


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.[5] He was awarded the 2008 and 2010 CNN Africa Photojournalist of the Year Award.[6]

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.[7][8] 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,[9] a hub and space for artists and activists to work together towards social change and advancing Human rights in Kenya.


Arrest on suspicion of organizing a revolution[edit]

Mwangi was arrested by police in May 2019 for allegedly organizing a revolution in Kenya.[10][11]

Fabricating allegations and witness coaching[edit]

In October 2016, Mwangi linked William Ruto to the assassination of a murdered Jubilee government critic Jacob Juma[12][13][14] and that Ruto also wanted him dead as well.[15][16] In the same month Ruto sued Mwangi for defamation.[14] In December 2016, Mwangi was accused of fabricating allegations against Ruto including coaching a witness to lie about allegations about Juma's murder, in court and to the Kenyan media.[17] In the same month it was reported by Daily Nation that a person from Ruto's office delivered a letter to Mwangi to help him with his defamation case.[18] That person later recanted his statements and claimed Mwangi coached him to fabricate stories about his claims on Juma's murder yet Mwangi had nothing provable about any of his claims but had just concocted non-existent and non-provable allegations about the murder.[17]


He formed Ukweli Party and was a candidate for the Starehe Constituency member of Parliament seat in the 2017 Kenyan general election.[19]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Hellen Njeri Mwangi, whom he works with at Pawa 254. They have three children.[20][21]

Honours and awards[edit]


  1. ^ "2012 Principal Prince Claus Award to Argentinian publishing co-operative Eloísa Cartonera - MarketWatch". Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Kenyan photojourno youngest winner of prestigious prize | Radio Netherlands Worldwide". Archived from the original on 23 February 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  3. ^ "Kenya's Boniface Mwangi Becomes Youngest Ever Recipient of Prestigious Prize – Niaje!". Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  4. ^ "The Team | Picha Mtaani". Archived from the original on 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  5. ^ opera (2018-11-20). "Boniface joins movement working for dignity". Daily Active. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  6. ^ " - CNN African Journalist of the Year Competition". Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  7. ^ "Youth Of The Week: Boniface Mwangi – Rise Networks". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  8. ^ Okafor, Lovelyn (2016-03-02). "Boniface Mwangi-Through the Lens; Addressing Africa's Challenges". Konnect Africa. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  9. ^ Kamau, Mwangi. "A New Chapter for PAWA 254 – Talanta Global". Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  10. ^ Wako, Amina; Kiage, Nyaboga (7 May 2019). "Kenya: Update - Boniface Mwangi Arrested, Charged With Plotting 'Revolution'". AllAfrica.
  11. ^ Njeru, Brian Ukaya and Betty (6 May 2019). "Activist Boniface Mwangi arrested". The Standard (Kenya).
  12. ^ Mathenge, Oliver (6 May 2016). "Jacob Juma made enemies online including Ruto". The Star (Kenya).
  13. ^ Murimi, Maureen (5 October 2016). "Activist Mwangi fires at DP Ruto over 'defamatory' tweet".
  14. ^ a b Maina, Carol (7 October 2016). "Ruto sues Boniface Mwangi for linking him to Jacob Juma death". The Star (Kenya).
  15. ^ Lang'at, Patrick (5 February 2017). "Boniface Mwangi now wants state security". Nairobi News.
  16. ^ Tubei, George (5 February 2017). "'William Ruto wants me dead like he killed Jacob Juma' Mwangi claims". Pulse Live Kenya.
  17. ^ a b Reporter, Nation (7 December 2016). "Man sent for mental check-up after fresh claims on Jacob Juma murder". Nation.
  18. ^ Maina, Carol (1 December 2016). "Man 'with details of Jacob Juma murder from Ruto's office' held 4 days". The Star.
  19. ^ App, Daily Nation. "Boniface Mwangi launches party - VIDEO". Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  20. ^ "Youth of the Week: Boniface Mwangi – Rise Networks". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  21. ^ Mukei, Cate. "Njeri Mwangi: My life with an activist". The Standard. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  22. ^ "This Former Photographer Wants Kenyans To Find Their Voices". Time. Retrieved 2019-10-12.
  23. ^ pm, Brian Kimani on 7 December 2020-4:48. "Larry Madowo Named Among Top 100 Most Influential Africans". Retrieved 2021-01-15.

External links[edit]