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

“The bikes need to have a story behind them.”

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

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

News Brief
Photo: Getty

Here's What You Need To Know About The Political Unrest In Sudan

Thousands have been protesting the Sudanese government over the weekend, supporting the military's plans for a coup.

Sudan's transitional government is in turmoil as thousands of citizens conducted a sit-in protest against them, over the weekend. A group of Sudanese citizens have called on the military to disestablish the nation's current government, as the country struggles with the greatest crisis they've seen since the end of former dictator Omar al-Bashir's controversial ruling, two years ago. The weekend's pro-military protests come as anti-military protestors took to the streets earlier this month to fight for civilian-ruled laws.

Military-aligned demonstrators assembled outside of the famously off-limits entrance of the Presidential Palace located in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday. Gatherers set up tents, blocking off access to two main intersections, cutting off access to the capital for those inside. Police attempted to wave off crowds with teargas, with Khartoum state officials saying they had, "repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government," in a statement issued Monday.

The assembly was called for by a coalition of rebel groups and political parties that support Sudan's military, accusing the civilian political parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power under their ruling. Demonstrations began on Saturday, but Sunday's gathering saw a lower attendance. According to Reuters, by Monday afternoon, thousands, between 2,000 - 3,000, had returned to voice their concerns. 52-year-old tribal elder Tahar Fadl al-Mawla spoke at the helm of the sit-in outside of the Presidential palace saying, "The civilian government has failed. We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition." Alongside a 65-year-old Ahman Jumaa who claimed to have traveled more than 900 kilometers (570 miles) from Southern region Nyala to show his support.

Protesters are demanding the appointment of a new cabinet that is "more representative of the people who participated in the December 2019 revolution that eventually led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir", Al Jazeera reported from Sudan. Protesters headed towards the Presidential Palace, where an emergency cabinet meeting was being held when they were met by police forces.

Pro-civilian political parties have plans for their own demonstration on Thursday, the anniversary of the 1964 revolution that overthrew Sudan's first military regime under Ibrahim Abboud and brought in a period of democracy that the country still struggles to uphold.

Sudanese Twitter users shared their thoughts online, with many drawing similarities between the current unrest and other political crises the nation has faced.

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