Jacque Njeri is a Kenyan Visual Artist and photographer reimagining a new future for the Masaai people, an ethnic group inhabiting parts of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. This new future alludes to a future in space including spaceships and other periphery that come with the terrain. We recently caught up with the Art & Design graduate of Kenya’s University of Nairobi to discuss her vividly beautiful imaginations, the role of women in this new future and a perfect Kenya.
(A Nasty Boy): Can you talk us through your project and why you saw the need to project the Masai people into space through your project?
(Jacque Njeri): I was inspired by the name MaaSci. A portmanteau of Maasai & Sci-Fi. The Maasai remain one of Africa’s upholders of culture and they have a great aesthetic to borrow from when trying to communicate an Afrofuturistic perspective.
(ANB): It’s beautiful. Seeing how you connected two subjects (the Maasai and sci-fi) that are generally unconnected to something so beautiful, ambitious and telling of the future of a tribe. What did you have in mind when you started out with the project?
(J.N.): Honestly, I was just letting out some creative energy burst. But, as I kept creating more pieces I sort of envisioned something bigger and that’s why I extended it into a series and now, with the reception it’s gotten, I am challenged & motivated to do more.
(ANB): Why was it important for you to include women and children in your Maasai space project?
(J.N.): I try to communicate different themes. For example, I created this when Kenya was going for elections. The intent was to promote female leadership which is still a struggle.
(ANB): Why would you say it is important to push for female subjects in your work?
(J.N.): It’s important to communicate the role women can and have been playing in society at a time when we are moving towards a more egalitarian society.
(ANB): When you think of a perfect Kenya, what comes to mind?
(J.N.): Systems and institutions in place that are accessible to everyone regardless of class. Clean & green cities. Education for all. Provision of materials to experiment with different ideas & nurture a generation of people who seek to become informed. An egalitarian society that encourages everyone to contribute freely to improve the quality of life.