Street Artist: Bankslave

This article was first published in Tuko on 25 Apr 2017

This Kenyan graffiti artist’s work will blow your mind

Meet Bankslave, the simple and unassuming man who hails from Kibera and is known as the founding father of Kenyan graffiti street art.
For more than 15 years, Bankslave has been making social and political commentary on Nairobi’s street walls.
However, his work has extended far beyond Nairobi. For instance, in March and April, he and his fellow Nairobi street artists were in Australia to showcase African mural art.
Bankslave’s work has also depicted famous personalities such as former US President Barack Obama, actress Lupita Nyong’o and singer Miriam Makeba.
Bankslave lupitamural

In an interview, Bankslave said: “Street art is not selfish; it brings color to the world and brings out Nairobi’s character and people, a way to express Nairobi in a cool way.”

He added that he chose the streets because he wanted to do his work where everyone can see and be motivated and inspired by his work.
He added: “And everyone needs art. Everyone needs to be inspired. And graffiti is here, it’s not selfish, it’s for everyone.”
bankslave 2
Bankslave said while he sought fame when he initially started, his main mission now is to use graffiti to transform lives and change mindsets in Nairobi’s communities.
Asked what inspired his brand name Bankslave, he said: “I thought I could get a name that speaks about me, speaks about my hassle, you know, getting money. And being inspired by my second name Esendi, which means ‘cents.'”
bankslave 1
For more about him and his thoughts on African politics through graffiti, click here.

Author: Epi B

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. - Albert Einstein

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