Thursday, October 05, 2006


Since the dawn of man, public wall have been used as a prime surface for the creation and communication of ideas. Artistic symbols like hieroglyphics and other cave writings have been used by groups to identify, exemplify and edify philosophy for an eon years.

The ban on Matatu grafitti is a sad one for me and I call it "The Murder of art". I thank a matatu poster for what I know about Che Guevara. The visual image on him on a route 58 matatu was an amalgam that evoked immediate response in me (of wanting to know who the hell he was). With matatu, came a phenomenon in grafitt, a visual expression. Grafitti artists yell out, not as immature youths, but rather as mature modern thinkers during a period of history when artistic dissent and creativity is stifled by an art world filled with dogmatic tradition and a media culture pathetically addicted to the consumption of messages and images designed to propagate the sales of consumer products. The ban comes at a time when the graffitists have come up with what is called "The Piece", a composed stick-up depicting words, background, characters, quotes and messages (like route 9's The Game).

Four major values of grafitti culture in matatus are fame (expressed by poster of the famous from Tupac to Mahatma Gandhi), artistic expression, power and rebellion. The poster art on matatus is one powerful forms of communication. Our public transport gives thousands of artists a cherished oppourtunity to proclaim ourselves to the world. Its an annoucement of our indentity and a testimony of its existence. The matatu grafitti artists have a voice which sings freedom, rebellion and original thought. They are the last breed of artist, the one that has made the full cyclical return to what was the advent of visual creation, the cave artist. Art, any art . . . is a difficult and sometimes lonely road to travel. It does take hard work, patience, and perseverance to see your creation come to life and this is what the government is killing, the dreams, the talent, the jobs of thousands of matatu graffitists.

I am still afraid of seeing my favourite mats "Casino aka Thuggish(had graphix of hiphop heavy weights RZA, Krs One....)" and "The Game" of route 9 and one which I dont know the name plies route 23 with a huge Tupac graphic at the back. There is also a route 42 called B.I.G. A route 111 called Nasty with a DJ John image at the back. Ours is a style that you will never find in any part of the world. Why do we have to kill this culture???????


  • I totally feel you. They are murdering local art. I can't believe it. Those were unique to kenya and just proved how much talent lies among us!

    By Blogger kipepeo, At 9:31 PM  

  • The ban on matatu graffiti won't last, it's been invoked so many times before and they all come back a few months later shiny and pretty with the candy paint.

    Some should get involved in documenting this unique Nairobi culture that has now caught on in other parts of Africa.

    By Anonymous makanga, At 10:35 PM  

  • its unfair for the government to act like they own the vehicles.ka mat iko na speed governor n 14 seats i don see the need for thr grafiti to be removed.maze hakuna colour kwa barabara zetu.i think mat owners should like have lawyers tutetea them n take gava to court.just like the dude who owns ruff cuts on 58.
    black rose

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 3:11 PM  

  • I have some dude to thank here his name is Ibz aka Ibrah he does Tshirts and is very good at it. He did Nonini's Tshirt which he is wearing in some video. He has also done Tshirts for Prezzo, Redsan, John of HomeBoyz, Collo of Kleopto and lots of other guyz. The best thing about them is that he does them by hand. He paints them and they are just wonderful. If u need one just let me know I'll hook u up with Ibz.

    By Blogger ---Supreme-G.R.E.A.M---, At 8:12 PM  

  • I feel you Sir.Gream. Its an art holocaust.It shuld be stopp'd!! Oh n I totalli feel RuffCuts: They dint change a thing,we want more resillience lyk this....Its lyk those jamaas whu protected the bible's manuscripts;if they hadn't been tough, well...

    By Blogger bantutu, At 10:11 AM  

  • The Standard did a feature recently on some Msa artiste who was making his dime through this art...and i know many who, trying to kill this trade would kill many a young people's breadline...and aint wot they do totally artistic?its just the dope.

    By Anonymous boyfulani, At 1:21 PM  

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