Miki Iwamura

Independent Photographer
Location: Brooklyn, New York USA
Nationality: Japan
Biography: Miki Iwamura was born in Japan, and raised in Tokyo and New York. Her formative years have developed a strong foundation for cultural diversity, which eventually lead her to various corners of the world with a camera. An award winner, Miki... MORE
Public Story
Copyright Miki Iwamura 2023
Date of Work Jul 2015 - Ongoing
Updated Nov 2021
Topics Climate Change, Community, Conservation, Documentary, Education, Environment, Essays, Family, Photography, Photojournalism, Travel, Water

For the past few years, I have been returning to Kenya to work on a photo project with the Samburu in Northern Kenya. They are a close nit network of semi-nomatic communities with deep reliance on livestock and tribal way of life. 

The Samburu were isolated from the rest of Kenya until a few years after independence in 1964. Their land was never a part of the highlands inhabited by colonists which allowed their culture and traditions to remain intact. This is changing rapidly in recent decades due to influx of the modern world- increase in road infrustructure, public transport, drifts into cities, widespread education and mobile networks. 

The effects of climate change and multiple droughts are also impacting Samburu communities to restructure their way of life. Areas that were abundant in flora and fauna three decades ago is now arid dry most of the year. Due to these reasons, many are no longer relying on a purely pastoralist living. Family structures are also being divided into those that take care of livestock to those that go to school so that income may be balanced in times of drought. An influx of foreign NGO aid for access to clean water, education, women’s rights and wildlife conservation have also increased their associations with the Western world. 

I met the Samburu by chance through one such organization associated with education. As a separate project, I began photographing and interviewing individuals in one community out of respect and curiosity for how they are co-existing with the modern world. With much learning and discussions, it became apparent that the younger generations of Samburu has one foot in tradition and the other foot in modern culture. As a person also from two opposing cultures, I felt connected to their undertaking, and it’s this transition and dual nature that I have been documenting for the past five years.

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