Graffiti artist Kevin Esendi, widely known as Bankslave, achieved a significant victory when a mural he was commissioned to create by Nairobi County was unveiled on Thursday.
As Nairobi County joined the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to mark the 4th International Day of Clean Air For Blue Skies, Governor Johnson Sakaja’s government presented the new mural located near the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.
The artist had secured the gig after Shaffie Weru, who now works as the Head of Events and Branding for Nairobi County, was captivated by his artwork at an event in December last year. The former media personality, subsequently lobbied his boss, Governor Johnson Sakaja, to recognise the artist and give him a gig, a request which was granted.
After three days of dedicated work, the mural now adorns the fences of Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja’s Office, facing KICC.
In an interview with Kenyans.co.ke, the artist who also drew the mural of Kenyan athletics legend Eliud Kipchoge near National Bank in the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) reveled at the fact that his artwork is now first piece of art to find a permanent home along City Hall.
“This is a big gig for me, it made me have a one-on-one with the Governor,” the widely-travelled artist said.
“He told me that he wanted to work with me in the future, and the future is today,” Bankslave stated.
Photo of Delegate Painting a Mural
According to the artist, the purpose of the new mural is to inspire both Nairobi residents and visitors to the city, emphasizing the theme of collaborative efforts to combat pollution and safeguard human health. The mural is a memoir of a nine-year, Ella Kissi Debrah who succumbed to air pollution-related complications.
The artist’s current rate card stands at Ksh 14,610 per square meter for his paintings.
Inspired by matatu graffiti since he first took an interest in the art during high school, the artist has been sketching on walls since the age of nine, recognizing his talent early on.
In pursuit of his passion, he further pursued his studies in Fine Arts at the Buruburu School of Fine Arts.
Photo of a Mural and Bankslave
The artist has a portfolio of several murals, with one of his standout pieces being a portrait of Lupita Nyong’o, which he created in 2014.
His body of work includes tributes to prominent personalities, both alive and dead.
Bankslave draws inspiration from the vibrant characters of Nairobi, producing artworks for significant city events and streets. He also occasionally conducts live art sessions.
Nairobi was selected as the host for the World Clean Air Day celebrations, coinciding with the Africa Climate Summit held at the same venue, scheduled to conclude on September 8.