MATATU: OUR MODERN DAY CAVE
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???????