What Graffiti Means to Kenyan Youth

Youth in Eastlands Nairobi are reclaiming their land one wall at a time.  These self-driven vijanas turn unauthorized dumpsites, crime blackspots and other dreaded areas in their neighbourhoods into a sight to behold through inspiring and informative graffiti art.

Mutua, one of the young artists, was more than willing to walk us through a number of his pieces and the story behind them. 

“Drawing has been a part of me since I was born. I have always wanted to be a mirror to society and speak about what the community is going through. Both good & bad,” said Mutua.

“I express what I personally feel and also what the community feels about a certain situation. There’s a piece I drew in a notorious murder spot in HURUMA. When I did that I knew what I was getting myself into but after I spoke to the residents in the area we both decided that we were going to take it upon ourselves to change the area’s reputation,” Mutua added. True to his word, cases of extra-judicial killings in the notorious spot have decreased significantly and continue to do so.

Mutua was also willing to introduce us to his fellow artists based in Kayole popularly known as “WAHENGA”. These young self-driven artists have even registered themselves as an official youth group in Kayole and continue to express themselves in a manner that positively affects society. 

“The problem comes in when profiling is done to us unemployed youth and we get judged stereotypically. We had to come together and register ourselves as an official youth group in Kayole so we can be recognized,” said Teder, a spokesman for Wahenga.

Though the struggle is yet to be concluded, these relentless young artists intend to take it to the next level. Informing, inspiring and eventually empowering the youth in Nairobi and Kenya at large.

Story By: J.K.Raminy and Leilah Namisango

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