Arts + Culture
Photo: Elizabeth Okwach

The Art Clubs Helping to Uplift Nairobi's Informal Settlements

Over the past few years, a number of art centers have sprung up in Mukuru, Nairobi, to help budding artists hone their skills and earn a living from their creations too.

Living in an informal settlement is reality for more than 1.5 million people in Nairobi, according to a recent census, and that figure is set to rise, owing to the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage Kenya. Despite the poverty, pollution and insecurity, creativity continues to thrive, as people defy struggles and bust stereotypes of being poor and powerless. And it’s in the urban slums nestled deep in the heart of Nairobi’s industrial area where Kenya’s renowned artists and art centers, including Mukuru Art Club, Wajukuu Art Center and Art Boyz, among others, can be found.

Adam Masava, a prolific and self-taught artist, born and raised in the heart of Mukuru Fuata Nyayo, has built a career around improving the living conditions of his fellow slum-dwellers with a state-of-the-art center, popularly known as Mukuru Art Club. It was established in 2008 as a way of giving back to the community, a place where kids as young as eight are enrolled to learn art, and older ones are mentored.

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