Afrofuturist Artist Cyrus Kabiru Preserves the Memory of ‘Black Mamba’ Bikes on the Wane in Kenya

Little did we know that one of Africa’s leading Afrofuturists Cyrus Kabiru, best known for his tricked out “C-Stunner” specs fashioned from recyclable scraps collected around Nairobi, has another project that he’s been keeping under the radar.

According to Quartz Africa, Kabiru is making it his mission to preserve the memory of Africa’s “Black Mamba” bicycles. These classic roadsters, originating in India and named for their creeping approach on the horizon much like the venomous snake, have been on the decline as urbanization on the continent has made cars and motorbikes preferable modes of transportation.

Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa

Still in what he considers the initial stages although the undertaking has been in the works for two years, the Kenyan breakout artist recognized at Quartz Africa’s Innovators Summit this week, has assembled 15 models of the two-wheelers from used bike parts and other discarded materials. Kabiru  exhibited documentary The End of Black Mamba at Smac Gallery in Cape Town last year.

Kabiru, filled with nostalgia for his father’s Black Mamba that he would wheel from door-to-door growing up in his bustling Nairobi slum as well as his grandfather’s untouchable model, is also collecting stories from family and others who share his fondness for Africa’s waning cultural fixture.

“I always say we here in Kenya never had visual art. We used to tell a story instead,” Kabiru says. “Now, I’m trying to make a story with an object. The bikes need to have a story behind them.”

Have a look at more of Kabiru’s far-out creations below, and be sure to watch the trailer for his documentary about the Black Mamba, above.

Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa
Cyrus Kabiru Black Mamba bike via Quartz Africa

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