We expect a mystery to be solved when it’s in a film or TV drama but real life is not so tidy. The question of who killed New Zealand photographer Trent Keegan in Nairobi in May 2008 is unlikely to ever find a resolution.
Before his death, Keegan, 33, had been filming Masai tribespeople in Tanzania caught in a vicious land dispute with a US-based safari company. Keegan had told his family that he had witnessed beatings, and he’d interviewed a Masai tribesman who’d been shot in the face. His interest was unwelcome in some quarters (see africanfarmersjournal.blogspot. com) and he was advised to leave Tanzania for his own safety. He was killed in Nairobi shortly afterwards.
Auckland-based journalist and documentary-maker Rob Harley, who made a programme about Keegan’s murder that aired on TV One and on international networks, is screening Who Killed Trent Keegan tomorrow as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography Talking Culture Sunday Series.
“There came a point when Trent was emailing people saying, ‘I don’t feel safe’. So he got out and went to Nairobi,” says Harley.
For reasons we will never understand, Keegan went for a walk along central Nairobi’s highly dangerous Uhuru Highway on the night of May 28, 2008, carrying his laptop and camera, as well as cash, credit cards and passport. His body — beaten to death — was found in a ditch. Unusually for a “mugging” in Nairobi, just the camera and laptop were taken. Then a Kenyan man, Hesbon Amadade, already in prison on a previous murder charge, confessed to the killing but, says Harley, the police were dragging their feet and “there was this air of mystery around what had happened to Trent”.