Style

Prêt-À-Poundo Interview: Cyrus Kabiru

Interview with emerging Kenyan visual artist Cyrus Kabiru, whose work could fit several environments and is part of the new innovative fashion movement.


Does it mean something to you? Is there any message behind these glasses with no lens? I saw your paintings, they are really cartoon-like, you seem to be a big dreamer. Is there any story behind each creations?

No, the one without the lenses don't have story. I just wear them on occasion. The paintings are how I see life — easy, good and funny. Also, if you know me that's who I am and how I live. Some of the sculptures have a story, not all of them. I paint at night because I grew up in a small house — two rooms and we were six children, plus our father and mum, so eight. I would wait until they were all asleep and then I would have space to paint.

Where are you living now?

Now, I'm living on my own, a bit well, the life I used to admire.

Today, as an artist, you have a social role — stemming mainly from media coverage — what do you want to spread with your art?

I want to change things where I can, especially art in Kenya for example introduce art in school. Although this is a bit hard but I will do my best.

Why is it difficult?

We are very few artists and it's hard because of the current politician, the Minister of Art and Culture. There are also some African artists that are selling poverty instead of creativity. They are pushing us backward. "Oh, buy my work, I am from the slums," "oh buy my work I need to do this and that." So, we can't move forward if we keep selling our stories instead of our creativity. For example, I never discuss where I grew up in my creations and when I do people don't believe me.

I have also read that you were arrested for 8 hours for wearing one of your creations.

Yes, I was arrested with two other artists because of wearing the C stunners. I tried to explain to them who we were and the funny coincidence is that I was in a newspaper that same day. My sculpture featured in the paper. So, friends of mine came and complained. They then released us because there was no reason for being arrested. That's why I'm saying that we have a long way to go.

What was the reason why police arrested you?

They didn't even know but for me they arrested us because they never learnt in their training how to deal with people like us. So they arrested us because they did not know what else to do, they'd never experienced people like us before.

I see that you are established in Kenya. Have you had the chance to show your work out of the country?

Yes, I had an exhibition with my glasses in Netherlands last year, in Tilbug, but I would love to show my work in the United States. Maybe next year. TED is talking about February of next year in Long Beach and again in Holland and Kenya.

How would you position yourself in the fashion industry, if at all? And, more specifically, in the African fashion industry?

I think my glasses work as fashion, as well as visual art. I just let the judges judge. I don't want to be boxed up as a Kenyan and African artist. I want to be considered as an artist from Africa or from Nairobi. I'm an African, I am not an African artist. African artist just sell Africa, not their creativity but an artist from Africa sells his creativity.

You are clearly not designing them for someone in particular or  a certain group of people. Who are the people wearing your creations?

Yes, people are buying them to wear them and others to hang them in their houses by framing them. Most of the people who are buying them are foreigners. You know, locally they don't know much about art. For example if you wear my glasses, they think you're into witchcraft. First of all, something you need to know is that we don't buy art because of culture and religion. If you put a sculpture in your house, they will say it's an idol (religion) if you wear my glasses they will relate them with a witch (culture), but things are changing. You know that's how the British used to manipulate the Africans to get their rich art.

How would you describe your fashion signature in one line about C Stunners?

The C stunners are changing the way we see things, they'e all-functional.

What do you think of today's fashion industry?

I don't know much about fashion, I just got myself into it. Fashion is changing each and everyday, we are now moving from the old to the new. Things are making us change this. If you imagine the times of our grand parents, they used to have their own fashion and now we are own beyond clothing and even in transportation — take the matatu for example.

Describe Cyrus Kabiru in one word.

(Laughs) The mad optician

That's not one word!

(Laughs) Eyerus

See Cyrus' work at the London College of Fashion, exhibited until November 3rd. Details in the flyer below.

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Music
Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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