CREDITS: This film was produced by 8278A Film for Cave_Bureau. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS Kabage Karanja, Stella Mutegi, Balmoi Abe. CAVERS Manuela Mhina, Priscillah Msafari, John Kariuki, Michelle Gitau PRODUCERS Andrew Mungai, Mkamzee Mwatela, DIRECTOR Mkamzee Mwatela, CINEMATOGRAPHER/EDITOR Andrew Mungai, POST-PRODUCTION/VFX Koome Mwirebua, GRIP & LIGHTING Patrick Muia, SOUND RECORDING Steve Toom, MUSIC Daniel Onyango, SPATIAL PLANNER Paola Njoki, Mt. SUSWA CONSERVATIONIST Ishmael Nkukuu.
Caves as geological structures and spaces are ingrained in our prehistoric consciousness. For thousands of years they have influenced the way we perceive and define the world around us. Humanity’s early experience of inside and out, the nave, light wells, shafts, chambers, echoes, among many other architectural experiences and features can be directly connected to our ancestor’s encounter with caves and associated networks across the ages.
Recorded histories of religious revelations within caves, to philosophical metaphors and narratives about emergence from caves, have formed an intrinsic part of our past, present and future. As we look today at the postcolonial African city, “caves” made by both men and women have broadened onto a rural and urban network with varying degrees of complexity. The city like the caves are dynamic and complex, both having changed over time, albeit with varying geological time lines. The proposed geological age we live in, The Anthropocene now brings this anthropological and geological relationship to the fore, requiring more holistic modes of inquiry surrounding the city and nature itself. Our work is an exploration into this relationship, where we look for sensitive ways to read, define and produce architecture on the continent.
We classify our projects under three categories, Origin, Void, and Made. We refer to the Origin as the rural paradigm where many people continue to migrate from towards the city. While the Void is the informal heart of the city that generally functions autonomously outside municipal control, and where majority of the origin folk migrate to live in slums and relatively neglected neighborhoods. While in most part, the Made, is a former preserve of the colonial settlers, conveniently appropriated after independence by the “national bourgeoisie, or as it were, an under-developed middle class” as Frantz Fanon called them. Today the Made remains the preserve for the more wealthy members of society to live and work.
All these three territories are complex and interdependent, contradictory and yet rich in nature. As a whole however they operate under a state of dysfunction, where inequality and poor planning is the reading of the day, but where the intricacies and beauties are seldom celebrated. Our work is drawn to decode these territories as a means to redefine our state of “being and time” in the African city.
Cave drawing analysing Mt Suswa’s Baboon Parliament, in Kenya, preceding Rome’s Pantheon in Italy, by over a million years.