An African Minute: 5 Questions with Artist Chief Nyamweya

Chief Nyamweya is an artist and writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is passionate about re-telling African stories through the contemporary power of art. He is also the founder of Emergency Webcomic, a comic based on the life and times of Kenyan National hero Dedan Kimathi that is set amidst the 1952 -1960 Mau Mau uprising in British East Africa. As part of Okayafrica's brand new series, "An African Minute," we asked Nyamweya 5 questions about what inspires him and how his work contributes to the changing global perception of Africa.

1. What is the "emergency" in "Emergency WebComic"? What is the idea behind this comic?

The "emergency" in the name of my first webcomic was a reference to the declaration of a State of Emergency in Kenya in 1952. I just wanted to tell a great story and, maybe, get young people interested in that little-understood period of our past. It wasn't meant as an encyclopaedia, but it contained enough fact to provoke the reader to want to visit more authoritative sources. Just as Asterix did for Roman history....Unfortunately, Emergency may have been ahead of it's time. In spite of it's popularity, there weren't any distributors who'd carry it, and I didn't have the critical mass online to sustain it full-time. So I had to park it for the time being.

2. What do you find you most challenging about being an artist, and specifically being an artist in Kenya?

Firstly, it's a challenge to find viable business models to make working as an artist sustainable, but not impossible. There are a lot of talented people out there who gave up trying and became accountants. I find this challenge exciting. Besides, I love what I do, so it's a bonus to make a living from what I would do anyway for free.

Secondly, there's not much of an established comic book industry in Kenya, so you find yourself make it up as you go along. Again, I find this to be a noble challenge.

3. How do you fund your creative projects?

There is soooooooooo much material all around us as Africans! The good thing about having our perspective ignored by the world for so long is that we're the one part of the world which has no shortage of content. And I'm not talking about NGO sob stories. I mean love, romance, crime fiction, science fiction, all with an African flavour!

4.What do you think will change about the creative economy in Africa over the next five years?

It will become a lot more entrepreneurial. In Nairobi this is already happening. Young people coming out of school in Nairobi have a new-found arrogance (and I use "arrogance" in a positive sense) and are taking charge of their future. They aren't willing to cow-tow to their inept predecessors, their government or employers. They are cheetahs. In five years, the energy around this generation would have made such a centre as Nairobi is very attractive to clients and distributors from around the world.

5.Lastly, your thoughts on changing the global perception of Africa?

I feel privileged to be growing up in these interesting times! We still have the negative stories out of Somalia, Ivory Coast etc, but for the first time, these stories are tempered by the verve of the Cheetah Generation. Asia responded early, but the world will catch up.

We also discovered other little unknowns about Chief Nyamweya. For instance, before he became Chief Nyamweya, "David" was on his birth certificate. He is independently self taught. He says that his country's future, and his role in it, as well as his continent's future and it's new place in the world inspire him. When asked what he would be doing if he wasn't an artist, he replied: "I'd probably go back to being the bored-to-death lawyer I was, and commit suicide after a year or so."

For more on Chief Nyamweya visit his latest crime fiction comic "Roba." We suggest you click the "enlarge" icon on the slide show below to get a better view of Nyamweya's incredible work.


Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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