HerTake: afriMAN

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afriMAN is an exploration of evolving understandings of manhood on the African continent, and how traditional expectations are being subverted by individuals. Conceived in collaboration with artists Fitsum Berhe Woldelibanos and Zelalem Mulat Teklewold these portraits are our interpretation of Africa’s modern day chiefs — men defining their own sense of identity beyond gender essentialism. The interviews that accompany the portraits are an essential part of this project, preceding the making of images that were then conceptualized together with our subjects. The men here reflect the emergence of a fresh, unhindered image of gender that rejects the dominant masculine ideals of aggression, dominance and a closed emotional state. Their masculinity is not imposed on them by the outer world. It’s not the masculinity of their fathers. It’s not even a fixed state. “Being a man,” explains writer Kevin Mwachiro, “is just simply being comfortable in your own skin.” This is the afriMAN.