Are You Calling Me A Dog?

Nura Qureshi

2016 - Ongoing

In 1963 Kenya achieved independence from Britain after a long struggle for liberation. The decade-long conflict known as the Mau Mau Rebellion, led by members of the Kikuyu people, was the most prolonged and violent anti-colonial warfare in the British Kenya colony. The Mau Mau resistance laid the groundwork for Kenya’s decolonization.

"Are You Calling Me A Dog?" reimagines the history of the Mau Mau Rebellion against British colonialism in Kenya. Using film and digital landscape and portrait photography this series recreates scenes from the conflict in British Kenya. It focuses on Mau Mau rituals of initiation and surrender, as well as British symbols and infrastructures of oppression, to expose the dehumanization of colonialism.

The series is guided by available historical sources like military and oral histories. It also draws on the places and people of contemporary Kenya – visits to sites of the Mau Mau resistance, interviews with former Mau Mau fighters, conversations with Kenyan domestic workers – for its visual language. Historical sites of Mau Mau rebellion and surviving Mau Mau fighters, but also Nairobi domestic spaces and laborers, become the protagonists in conjuring a set of questions about power and freedom for both past and future generations of Kenyans.

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  • "7 Oranges"
    Nairobi, Kenya 2018

  • "The Oath Administrator"
    In her testimony, Hotensiah Njeri Njuguna, explained that she noticed torches between the leaves in the banana trees to signal when the Mau Mau were present. Nairobi, Kenya 2017

  • "Editions Mau-Mau Afrique" Remnants of the era of the Mau Mau are often hard to find. A lot of it has been destroyed or is hidden like this vinyl in a house in Nyeri, Kenya 2016.

  • "Moving Gallows"
    Limuru, Kenya 2017

  • "Confessed"
    Detainees were marked with symbols on their files:
    X: confessed & cooperative
    Z: Hardcore
    Nairobi, Kenya 2017.

  • "Prisoner Markings"
    Nairobi, Kenya 2018

  • The Kikuyu, Embu & Meru Passbooks were introduced to control the movement of the three communities during the Emergency. In order to obtain a passbook one needed to be vouched for by an European Employer, Government Official or prominent Loyalist.
    Nyeri, Kenya 2016

  • "Shrubbing"
    Heavy tropical rainfalls and the high intensity of the sun right at the Equator influences human made physical objects every day and makes it easy to let them disappear. But just as easy they disappear; in contrast the roots of soul and culture keep on coming back.
    Nairobi, Kenya 2017

  • "Muddy Pit"
    Nairobi, Kenya 2018

  • "Villagization"
    The Kikuyus were forced to move from their traditional pattern of widely scattered homes into "Villages". This was thought to reduce the Kikuyus individualism and by 1954 one million Kikuyu moved into 800 newly constructed, controlled villages.
    Nairobi, Kenya 2017.

  • "Landburn"
    Nairobi, Kenya 2019

  • "Surrender"
    Nairobi, Kenya 2017