Kenya’s Graffiti Train Seeks To Promote A Peaceful Election


Kenya’s peace train is ready to roll. Kenyan graffiti artists received permission from the Rift Valley Railway to spray-paint a 10-car commuter train with peace messages and icons. It may be the first train in Africa with officially authorized graffiti. The train will travel through the massive Nairobi slum of Kibera, one of the largest in Africa, where young gangs torched, looted and killed in the spasms of violence that followed the 2007 Kenyan presidential election. “What we’re doing with the train here now, it’s part of a civic education and a way to advertise peace,” says Uhuru B, a […]

Graffiti artist takes on fresh challenge with hotel project


Bankslave (aka Brian Esendi) is best known in Kenya for being one of our leading graffiti artists. He is a man who has mainly made his mark artistically, not for art exhibitions held in local galleries, but for his fabulous designs spray-painted on walls all around the city, coast and countryside. Probably his most famed work is a portrait of Lupita Nyong’o painted at the GoDown Art Centre. It has been a source of inspiration to many up-and-coming Kenyan artists. It has also become emblematic of Kenya’s booming graffiti art scene. But Bankslave also gets called to do special projects […]

Kenyan Graffiti Artists Spray for Political, Social Change


NAIROBI — Some of Kenya’s graffiti artists have become a voice for social change, using their art to push boundaries and make statements about the country’s political elite. Nine years ago, Kevin Esendi aka Bankslave dropped out of art school and embraced his first love – graffiti. Most of his fans and fellow artists now know him by his street name – “Bankslave.” “Bankslave” has risen to become one of Nairobi’s foremost graffiti artists. He says the art form – which some consider a public nuisance – has evolved in Kenya to become an outlet for political opinion. “Graffiti is a […]

Graffiti artists turn to walls with a stinging political message


he images hit you hard in the face. They virtually jump out of the concrete surfaces they are painted on. A huge, menacing vulture sits on a throne with a briefcase overflowing with cash cuffed on his wrist with a chain. Around it is evidence of all manner of scandals that have taken the Kenyan economy on a free fall. In another, vultures arrogantly walk around with their families. These images are all over the city of Nairobi, courtesy of the deft hands of a group of young graffiti artists. They are in public toilets, buildings and roads. Their message […]

Meet Bankslave, Kenya’s King Of Graffiti Art


IMAGES: L-R FACEBOOK/INSTAGRAM BANKSLAVE In an interview with CNN for the African Voices segment, we meet Bankslave, one of the artists to pilot graffiti art in Kenya. IMAGE: FACEBOOK/ BANKSLAVE Like many artists, Bankslave always knew he had talent when at the age of nine and ten he would scribble on walls and get a proper beating from his mother. IMAGE: FACEBOOK/ BANKSLAVE He grew up in Kibera slums and when in high school, he picked up the art, inspired by the graffiti on Kenyan matatus. IMAGE: MATWANA MATATU CULTURE His work is a showcase of Nairobi characters. Bankslave says: I want to […]

Why Nairobi has become mecca of Kenyan public art


Visual artists are ever in a quandary over where to exhibit their art. Either their work requires more space than some Nairobi galleries and art centres have available or the price of renting exhibition space is more than artists can afford. Some proprietors are also slow in providing payment to artists after their artworks are sold. However, many ingenious Kenyan artists have found ways around these roadblocks. Quite a few display their art on Facebook (like Michael Soi, Mbuthia Maina and many others), while some establish their own websites (like Bankslave) or open up galleries of their own. (For instance, this […]

Tunapanda’s new graffiti


Tunapanda Institute’s look has been enhanced! Last week, Tunapanda’s look got enhanced through the use of graffiti. In exchange for a web design service, Bankslave, one of the graffiti artists in Nairobi had a chance to “use our wall as his canvas”. Our inner court’s wall was the canvas. Bankslave’s passion for art (specifically street graffiti) started at a younger age. He grew up in Kibera watching the best and worst cultures of the slum. He uses his graffiti as a way to voice out his opinions to the world — he uses graffiti to express himself. He appreciates good cultures and […]

Why I love graffiti


In one of Segerstrom’s favourite studies, researchers asked a group of people to use a beautiful piece of classical music to raise their moods, while telling other volunteers simply to listen to the symphony. The result: The concert didn’t help those who were focused on lifting their spirits—but the others wound up feeling much better. “To truly be happy, you have to stop trying,” says Segerstrom (it’s true; naturally happy people never do these 6 things). Even monitoring yourself—Am I feeling better yet?—gets in the way, studies show. Instead, aim to be engaged. “Engagement bypasses pessimism,” she says. One reason: When […]