African Instagrammers: Who to Follow

Instagram has become an essential part of our lives, allowing us to show the world what we’re getting up to. But the photo-sharing site is also a platform for people to showcase their creativity, whether it’s about sharing the most artistic photo or simply adding a dash of cuteness to your feed. And with so many people on the ’gram, it can prove difficult to work out the best accounts to follow, especially when it comes to those by Africans or with a keen focus on the continent. The following 10 are some of the countless that are worth checking out. From the humorous to the inspirational, to the envy-inducing – there’s something for everyone.

@africancityzens – African Cityzens

Crossing the tracks #kampala #uganda #africancityzens Photo by @lafrohemien

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What is Africa? How foreign is Africa to Africans? These are some of the questions photographers Sarah Waiswa from Uganda and Kenyan Joel Lukhovi aim to address with African Cityzens. Coupling an arresting array of photos with detailed captions, they document lives of ordinary Africans, showing those hidden nuances that make Africa tick.

The two met three years ago and started the project in a bid “to create a body of work that will provoke, rejoice, and celebrate the ways of Africa.” Indeed, whether it’s a girl under the hot Ugandan sun, spreading coffee beans on the floor to dry; an elderly Ethiopian woman proudly showing off tattoos of cultural significance on her face; or kids cooling off at a pristine Tanzanian beach – you can’t help but feel a surge of emotion in some way.

“One of the recurring themes in our work is the complexity of black identity, movement, and space that define us. We are looking into the relationship between freedom and space. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that the two are interconnected,” Sarah and Joel explain.

Their expedition has seen them explore Southern and East Africa, but they plan to visit every corner of the continent over a period of five years. They travel by road, using public transport because it’s a more affordable option, and it allows them to connect with the local people. After wrapping up their travels, Joel and Sarah will release a photobook that will narrate African Cityzens.

@everydayafrica – Everyday Africa

Everyday Africa is a movement born out of the need to give the world a fresh perspective on Africa. Photographers Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill started the project in 2012, using iPhones to capture moments of everyday life, with the aim of dispelling the war-and-poverty stereotype the western media always tags the continent with.

Today, Everyday Africa commands more than 280K Instagram followers and has photographers from all over Africa contributing to the project. “Everyday Africa is a family of photographers from diverse backgrounds. I am proud to be part of the team that is positively educating the world on the proper way to see Africa,” explains contributor Nana Kofi Acquah.

The movement’s influence has been far reaching, inspiring numerous spin-off accounts in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, where photographers have joined forces to dismiss the stereotypes that have come to define these regions.

@ahmad_abi – Ahmad El-Abi

“Bubble head” #stuffedhair

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Bright, optimistic photography always wins. For proof, look no further than Egyptian artist Ahmad El-Abi’s images, which have turned his Instagram account into an absolute paradise of colours. Ahmad was a physician when when he found his true calling in conceptual arts and photography.

His account brims with delightfully fun and quirky portraits, dominated by an abundance of colours and an unmistakable sense of humour. There’s a whimsical quality that flows through his work, which is highly depicted in his recent photo series called #StuffedHair. The series saw him stuff his hair with all sorts of objects, such as lollipops, dried pasta, Legos, and kitchen utensils. One image even shows the photographer wearing bubbles on his head, which caused a lot of his followers to ask how he did it.

Since this project, Ahmad’s photos have been bringing smiles to thousands of people across the internet. “I hope to inspire others to open their eyes, to do what they love and to discover more about what they can do,” Ahmad told the Instagram blog. “I really love it when someone says my photos cheer them up because they are colorful and funny.”

@mambub – Mambu Bayoh

#Lagos #lagosphoto2015 #life

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Mambu Bayoh started photography at the age of 15, taking pictures of black women in his neighbourhood as a way of “giving a voice” to the underrepresented demographic. There’s a distinct emphasis on being natural in his work and taking pride in one’s own appearance. Mambu places importance in allowing his subjects to “personally, uniquely and culturally express themselves.” This results in a cohesive body of work dripping with passion and authenticity.

In addition to Tumblr, the inimitable Sierra Leonean artist showcases his talent on Instagram, where he has developed a cult following from countless people who relate to his work.

@visiterlafrique – Visiter l’Afrique

Searching for your next destination? Or looking to travel Africa but don’t know where to start? You can begin by checking out Visiter l’Afrique to see the best Africa has to offer in all her splendor.

Founded in 2014 by Cameroonian journalist Diane Audrey Ngako, Visiter l’Afrique is a website that brings together a large community of travelers, who – through photographs and writing – share their experiences of the places they visit.

“Africa is mainly represented by non-Africans who usually talk about a sordid continent where only famine, wars, and other scourges happen. After numerous trips across Africa, one realises that the continent has multiple sides: beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, warm and welcoming people. It thus became obvious to create Visiter l’Afrique in order to depict a more objective view of the continent, by rethinking its image without denying its problems,” Audrey tells us.

Visiter l’Afrique’s Instagram account has attracted about 70K followers, becoming the quintessential page for African travel. Here you’ll be treated to a great deal of stunning shots of the awe-inspiring and historically rich places, from South Africa to Morocco, through Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and countless others. You will also find a rich guide from a legion of contributors from all over the continent.

@andrewesiebo – Andrew Esiebo

Mobile shops on Makoko lagoon. Lagos . #shop #mobile #Makoko #andrewesiebo

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Nigerian photographer Andrew Esiebo uses pictures to narrate the story of Africa’s largest country. His work explores a wide range of themes including sexuality, gender politics, football, popular culture, migration, and religion.

Known for his vibrant and colourful pictures, Andrew’s previous projects include documenting barber shops in West Africa, and a football team of grandmothers in South Africa when the country hosted the 2010 World Cup. He’s also done a series capturing the fashion sense of motorbike riders in Lagos.

All in all, his Instagram feed beautifully brings to life the spirit of Nigeria, featuring jaw-dropping images of everything from kids in a classroom, construction workers, to posh Lagos nightclubs. 

@garethpon – Gareth Pon

Casual Snapping at African Fashion International #spotthegprocket

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South African artist Gareth Pon has made a name for himself using the power of film and photography to tell stories. He showcases some of his work on Instagram, where he has amassed more than 260K followers. One couldn’t expect less from someone who has been voted Africa’s Best Instagrammer twice in a row, at the 2014 and 2015 African Blogger Awards.

Gareth took his passion for Instagram to a new level in 2013 when he founded the South African Instagramers Community, “a group of passionate visual minded people in South Africa who are in love with capturing photos and videos of South Africa and sharing them through Instagram.”

@sunujournal by Amy Sall

Scrolling through @sunujournal is like strolling through a museum or an art gallery, and being mesmerised by the documentation of history and pieces of art on display. Whether it’s a portrait of a Hausa woman from Togo or a picture of a rally in Windhoek, Namibia on the eve of the county’s first independent elections in 1978, Amy Sall’s page offers a way of looking into African issues from a beautifully honest and interesting perspective.

Born in Senegal and raised in New York, Amy recently completed her master’s degree in human rights. She’s working on extending her Instagram page to offer a website, which will be a “journal of African affairs, critical thought and aesthetics.”

“Sunu (meaning ‘our’ in Wolof) relates to how strongly I feel about African youth and the sharing of ideas. The inspiration came from a few things, one of which was seeing how people would engage with my posts on Instagram. I would share images taken from an African context and this would spark comments and debates on the subject. This gave me the idea to start something where we could have conversations around issues, art and culture beyond Instagram,” she explains.

@truthslinger by Mutua Matheka

Hanging out. #igKenya #igersNairobi #cityofNairobi

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A scroll through Mutua Matheka’s Instagram feed reveals that the Kenyan photographer has a thing for landscapes and tall city buildings. Add to that striking portraits and shots showing Nairobi’s vibrant urban life, and you have a passionate project aimed at showcasing the Kenyan capital like you’ve never seen it before. His images of the busy night life juxtaposed with the laid back day-to-day activities of Nairobi’s residents allow him to capture the city’s various moods and energies.

“I’m all about the African dream and taking photos that defy the African narrative by showing the beauty in the mundane. Instagram has opened my life to so many creative people around the globe. It has enabled me to meet some really cool ‘gramers and it is how I get my news from Instagram. I think it has changed my life for sure,” he says.

Mutua recently took part in UN Habitat’s I’m a City Changer, a worldwide campaign meant to raise awareness about positive urban change by engaging citizens in voicing issues. 

@trevor_stuurman – Trevor Stuurman

For fashion bloggers and style lovers, the pictorial paradise of Instagram is instrumental in helping them stay on top of their game. Just ask Trevor Stuurman, the 23-year old photographer and stylist who has made a name for himself in the South African fashion industry.

Trevor is all about prints and bold colours, which is why his feed is so full of life. He shares everything from what inspires his work to his latest ventures. Using fashion to express herself, he lets his vibrant personality shine through all his photographs.

Trevor got his breakthrough in 2012 when he won ELLE magazine’s Style Reporter competition. From there, he has gone to become a trend consultant for retail giant Woolworths. In addition to working with some of the leading fashion magazines in South Africa such as Grazia and Glamour, he has also represented South Africa on a panel in Italy at Pitti Immagine, one of the world’s leading men’s fashion platforms.


Read our piece featuring the late Nelson Manela and his “Madiba shirt”, and Benin’s
dynamic songstress Angélique Kidjo who never disappoints with the bold African prints.

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