Title: Priya Ramrakha: The Recovered Archive
Photographer(s): Priya Ramrakha
Writer(s): Paul Theroux, Sana Aiyar, John Edwin Mason, Erin Haney, Shravan Vidyarthi
Designer(s): Bonnie Briant
Publisher(s): Kehrer, Heidelberg, Germany
Size: 23 x 29,5 cm
Print: Printed in Germany
Nation(s) and year(s) of Protest: Kenya
I discovered Priya Ramrakha's images through this book, which is a witness to his life, and since he has always worked on assignments for international magazines there is no real book that shows his images of the Prague Spring or the riots in Nigeria or Uganda or the Mau Mau in Kenya or the Zanzibar massacre during the 1964 uprising.
For Priya, an Indian-born Kenyan in East Africa, it was not easy growing up in a country like hers. Priya came from an educated and stable family, but the experiences of Indians in East Africa helped them understand the position of Africans in the world; the colonial-era newspaper, founded and edited by Priya's uncle, was a voice agitating for independence. The East African Indians had also, to some extent, abandoned their caste consciousness in the old country; Hindus married Muslims, Ismailis and Christians, and occasionally there was an Indo-African marriage. Eventually, when they were expelled from Uganda and driven out of Kenya, they were easily assimilated into Britain and elsewhere, because they had learned to be aliens. One of Priya's gifts-again, it is evident in her photographs-is that she was at home in the rest of the world.
Priya Ramrakha was killed in Biafra in 1967, as is shown in the last pages of this book, by the crossfire of Biafran snipers, because he wanted to be ahead of the curve to see what was happening in person...
Priya's heroic mission was not to let places like Biafra be forgotten. He was not a danger freak. He loved life too much to want to invite death. He always had the feeling that luck was on his side; he had had so many loopholes that he must have believed that everything would be all right.