Sven Torfinn

Nairobi, Kenya


Dutch, 1971

Sven Torfinn studied photography at the Academy for Fine Arts Sint Joost in Breda, the Netherlands from 1990 to 1995.

He co-founded a magazine about rock climbing and after a short foray into fashion photography he began working as a freelancer for Dutch media travelling to Bosnia, Malaysia, Mexico and Kosovo.

In 1998, after his first encounter with East and Central Africa, he decided to follow the lead of foreign correspondents and base himself in a particular region, rather than continuing to travel around the world from one hot spot to another.

By living in Africa he saw the opportunity to understand the region and produce pictures that could show something more than the familiar images of war, famine and disaster.

He has been based in Nairobi, Kenya, for the past 15 years.

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Following the departure of Tunisia’s strongman Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in early January and the drawn-out showdown between President Mubarak and anti-government protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, on 17 February 2011 it was Libya’s turn.

What would you do if the place you call home was torn apart by violence?

The humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan has left at least 200,000 people dead and an estimated two million displaced.

Sleeping sickness, once thought almost eradicated through vigorous colonial control programmes in the first half of the 20th century, was for a while relegated to historical footnotes in medical textbooks.

The humanitarian situation in Goma remains desperate.

When peace finally came, the daunting task of building a new country could begin.

In 2006, a motorcycle-riding suicide bomber rode into a crowd at a wrestling match in the town of Spin Boldak, killing at least twenty people.

Vincent left Ghana at the age of 16.

Every spring, out here on this endless sheet of yellow grass, two million wildebeest, zebras, gazelles and other grazers march north in search of greener pastures, with lions and hyenas stalking them and vultures circling above.

Joseph Gatyoung Khan made a vow, uttered in the back seat of a Land Cruiser on a very bumpy road, as he headed home for the first time in 22 years: I will not cry.

The glitzy shopping malls of London, Berlin and Shanghai, where mobile phones and other electronic gadgets are sold as must-have life-style choices, may seem a long way from the muddy jungles of Central Africa.

When Agnes Lunkembesa gave birth to her ninth child, she decided enough was enough.

Chinese investment in Africa is a hot topic that is splitting opinion in surprising ways.