Inspiring story of humble photographer behind Ruto's official portrait

The South Sudanese photographer ditched his IT career to become one of the most sought-after photographers in Kenya and beyond

Emmanuel Jambo the photographer behind William Ruto's official portrait

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna has announced that the official portrait of President William Ruto is available at government offices across the country.

President Ruto’s official portrait will be issued to members of the public at a cost of Sh300 each.

The portrait can be collected from the Department of Information at Uchumi House or from county and sub-county information officers in the devolved units.

While there is no law forcing Kenyans to display the president's portrait in their offices and businesses, it has become a tradition.

The tradition is strictly followed in government offices and is considered a sign of reverence.

The official portrait was taken by a South Sudanese photographer based in Kenya, Mr Emmanuel Jambo.

Emmanuel’s journey in photography took off in the US when he met a photographer who used to do work for Martin Luther King.

The photographer, whom Jambo described as a mentor and teacher, took him under his wing and inspired his art.

His return to Kenya came in the form of a job opportunity at a local magazine which he shot for, setting the foundation for his stellar career.

I have family in Kenya. I had initially just come to visit my elder sister, who is a photographer as well.

She worked with the United Nations and decided to settle here. I got inspired by her work as I was growing up. I then got a job after a few calls were made to a couple of magazines,” he said in a past interview.

President Ruto becomes the latest head of state to feature on Emmanuel's long list of VIP clients including former President Uhuru Kenyatta, former presidents of Zambia Rupiah Banda and Kenneth Kaunda, and South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

He is also one of the most sought-after photographers in the entertainment industry and has worked with superstars including boy band Sauti Sol.

The computer information systems graduate has lived in three other countries aside from Kenya, Sudan, Egypt and the US.

When I started photography, I didn’t plan on doing it professionally. I had a job, but I really loved photography. I would look at pictures and analyse them, and would even go to exhibitions and galleries,” he told Nation in a past interview.

In 2012, Emmanuel was named one of the most influential photographers in Africa by Forbes.

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