Cyrus Kabiru is an artist from Nairobi. Peep more of his art on his tumblr, daportfolio, African Colors, edcrossfineart, and extraimaginary. You can also see his features in articles on NYTimes and the cultureist. Check out his facebook page. Read more about him on his TED profile and Kuona Trust.
Watch him talk about his work on vimeo.
Basically, google “Cyrus Kabiru.”
UPDATE: 9 April 2013. Check out Cyrus’ new TED interview.
Cyrus Nganga Kabiru
sorry for sending this late i have answered some ….
1. Where are you from, What was it like growing up?
i grown up in nairobi. the place i grown was hard life survival for the [fittest].
2. What kind of hustles were people involved in?
-i grown up near market so the best way was for you to start your own business and to be clever than the marketers. also there was many businesses like selling water,junk metal, plastics and many [others].
3. How did you start doing art?
-i grown up as the best toy maker this means i started in my early age.
[Excerpt from his Artist Statement at African Colours: “Artist Statement:
I call them the C-STUNNERS©. The original idea was inspired by memories of my father’s childhood where he dropped his glasses by accident and a lorry which by chance happened to be fatefully passing by ran over them, shattering them completely. It goes without saying that he received a very thorough beating from my grandfather. From that day on my father hated glasses.
I admired sun-glasses though, but wearing them was an impossibility because of my father’s attitude towards them and I thus decided that when I grew up I would pick up from where the lorry left off.
Many of my friends despised me as I continued nurturing that dream, along with the additional name calling while being told that it was all nonsense. The argument was that it was a strange way of art.What they never knew was that this was my dream and I had made it my hobby as well.
Now all grown up this dream has come to pass and now I have my own eyewear line which I call THE C-STUNNERS. I have realized the dream and as my grandfather once said “When you truly dream a dream of your lifetime, never go back to sleep” and I, well, I am neither relenting nor dozing back to sleep.
C-Stunners have rocked the regional media and more so the tastes and imagination of art lovers with local television stations having interviews and discussions about them. The press have had columns and pages dedicated to them. My dream is to make them the classic choice of even aliens, who are beyond the international levels. I have been arrested once for almost 8 hours because of wearing them. For now, the sky is the limit.”]
4. What does hip hop mean to you, What made you get involved in Hip Hop?
-i like hip hop….the neighborhood i grown up on was the hip hop ghetto (dandora) it means many things for me. its a life changer…hiphop change many.
5. What do the words ‘kazi’, ‘vijana’ and ‘mshamba’ mean to you?
What is ‘politicking’?
-kazi means job, vijana young, mshamba is some one from rural [area] visiting town.
6. What is ‘mental slavery’?
-mental slavery to me is to think inside the box instead of thinking outside of it.
7. How are hiphop artists making money from their music today?
hip hop artist their not making any money…but people are making money through them, many they are using them and dump them (as a step stone)
8. How do politics impact your work?
-my work dont inter fear with politics at all…i have many things that impact my work.
9. Besides rappers, who else do you see ‘doing’ hip hop, other artists, dancers, graffiti/matatu artists, activists, hustlas, etc. ?
-the graffiti/matatu artist there doing hip hop.
10. Name your favorite artists (also visual artists, anyone), who are you listening to sasa?
-all are my favourites ..mau mau of course, octopus
11. Why do you think there aren’t as many femcees?
How have women contributed to hip hop in Kenya?
-there a bit down you know hiphop need hardcore kenyan lady there much beautiful, and you know this two dont go together.
12. What can you say about the Mau Mau kambi?
-maumau [they’re] my men [they’re] all good and they know what [they’re] doing.
13. What type of community organizations, informal or formal are helping vijana in Kenya leo?
-no any organisation help the vijanaa instead they use them as a stepping stone.
14. What hustles are you working on sasa? is there such a thing as hip hop jobs? Ama only hustling?
(Talk about any of your projects, mixtape, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
(Talk about your travels?)
-for now am sculpting and preparing to attend a TED talk in February this year …also hard to [live] as a hip hop, you need to do something else.
[Excerpt from Cyrus’ TED Profile:
An idea worth spreading
Saving nature through art: – living and working in Kenya, and especially in Nairobi, a city struggling with the implications of rapid urbanization and population growth through rural to urban migration – growing up one of Nairobi’s numerous slums, I have seen a need for the residents of Nairobi to find ways to better use and re-use the resources we have. Many areas of Nairobi have for a long time been drowning in rubbish and communal waste due to a failure by the public service to create infrastructures for collection and recycling. My goal, my idea worth spreading, is to encourage more and more people to create art and functional materials from rubbish and recyclable materials. I have done outreach workshops around Kenya, in areas like Kitui and Kisumu where there was already a vibrant visual arts culture but limited resources were stifling productivity (e.g. sculpture is difficult to do because of deforestation). ]
15. What are some of the obstacles/problems facing young people in Kenya today (zote, Lodwar to Dando to Westi?)
-they have all types of problems in this world especially lack of job..
16. How are you interacting with artists across the globe and also particularly in East Afrika?
-am doing some workshops and this bring them together and we just discuss things affecting our communities.
17. What sort of positive things do you see happening with young people in Kenya?
-we have both negative and positive things….first we are lazy. we are not thinking outside the box, we just sit down waiting for the government to give as good job.
-i do art with recycling materials and this shows that you can do everything with anything.