A trio of photographers showcase the beauty of the city by scaling its skyscrapers.
Cedi Mungai, Tintseh Mukundi, and Peter Irungu—a.k.a. the #nightbandits—are essentially members of an informal photography club. But they don't meet in musty darkrooms mulling over stills. They don't swap stories over suds at a local bar. They gather on the tops of Nairobi's skyscrapers and high-rises, looking out over a downtown that seems to be changing by the second.
Importantly, they're capturing downtown Nairobi at a time when its ability to sustain the city's transportation looks a bit precarious.
Nearly all cross-city transit is facilitated through the CBD. Without an alternative node, major roadways—new and old—are funneled to the district. Bereft of an inter-city rail network, the CBD has languished in a woeful state of congestion. The gridlock has prompted many industries—their presence key to the Central Business District remaining the Central Business District—to consider relocating. “The City Centre is no longer an ideal location for businesses of our stature,” a spokeswoman of a leading commercial bank told Next City in 2013. A 2014 study found the majority of new office space is being constructed in more suburban neighborhoods away from downtown.
Still, the CBD continues to serve as Nairobi's nucleus. And these high-rise snapshots capture how aesthetically captivating the neighborhood continues to be. More, the photos help break down lingering misperceptions about African cities: Like Nairobi, many of them boast modern exteriors and vibrant, cosmopolitan cultures.
"A lot of Westerners have the perception that African cities are dirty and underdeveloped, which is not true at all," Cedi Mungai told CityLab over email. Westerners that stumble upon his Instragram profile, "are usually very stunned to see how beautiful Nairobi is," Mungai added.
From the peaks of Nairobi's skyscrapers—above the fray of a congested urban core—it's a truly stunning city.