Friday, March 23, 2012

Power of the Brush

by Thomas Bwire

Occasionally a walk through Kibera gives a unique opportunity to get to meet young people who are committed to a particular activity like washing cars, collecting garbage, engaging customers at a barber shop and many more.

This is not the only impression that all is well.  If you were a first time visitor, then you could easily see a larger group of young people hanging out in small groups, just chatting the whole day with nothing much to be done.

In today’s blog we feature Noor Ibrahim, aged 27 years, a young person from the Kibera community. He lives in Karanja village. I did meet him at the center this Wednesday on their routine painting sessions with art instructor Joseph Wanderi at the Uweza Center.

Noor Ibrahim
Uweza Art Instructor Joseph Wanderi
As I watch him paint one of the portraits of the Kenyan’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga from one of the local daily news papers, I found myself asking him one big question, “where did your motivation come from?”


Ibrahim tells me how his nurturing talent has come of age. "After finishing high school, I used to watch my big brother who was an artist paint stuff; he could paint portraits of people which in return got quick sells. I also loved to just give long glances at the GADO cartoons in a local newspaper. These cartoons had a clear message everyday and it depends how you interpret them,” notes Ibrahim. 


"Later on, I  moved a notch higher, where I got involved with the local schools, where I did face painting for kids during prize giving days.  Some of the teachers asked me to paint wild animals on manila papers as their a teaching aid tools for their pupils. This gave me some small income by the end of the day. I also attended the yearly international trade fair held in Nairobi, and did lot’s of face painting for kids who came to visit different exhibitions stands.”

Ibrahim shared that his greatest passion is to do painting of landscapes, as they express a sense of belonging and also how to tell how beautiful nature is.

One of Ibrahim's paintings
One of his major challenges comes from his peers who see painting as a waste of time, but this does not deter him from moving on as he hopes for a better today.  His parting words for me are “In five year’s time from now, I want to own an art studio here in Kibera and help teach other young kids with an interest in painting."

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