I'm so excited to present the first in a series of Afri-love interviews. I'll be interviewing people who do what they love and who are influenced by that rich continent, Africa (of course). Hopefully you'll find the interviews as inspiring as I do!
First up, artist Chief Nyamweya, creator of the Emergency webcomic. Inspired by the need to present history in a form that is more accessible to the wider public, Emergency tells the story of the Mau Mau uprising that took place in British East Africa (present day Kenya) between 1952 – 1960. Nyamweya entertains and proves once again, the power of the arts to transcend barriers to knowledge. And what knowledge could be more important than that of your own past?
What's your passion?
Creating. Not just art but creation of all sorts. If you want to kill me quickly, give me routine tasks.
What inspired you to create the Emergency web comic?
Like Che Guevara, everybody recognizes the name and images of Dedan Kimathi. But just like with Che, not as many know much detail. In the case of Kimathi, this is largely because popular fiction hasn't responded to this interest the way scholars have.
What has been your greatest obstacle in being an artist?
As with all other artists, the greatest obstacle is always how to pursue your passion yet 'pay for the toast' as well!
How have you dealt with it?
I'm still working on a model to 'pay for the toast'.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I don't typically count achievements once they are behind me. If I had to say, it would be starting a Business Process Outsourcing Centre when fresh out of university in 2007/2008. It eventually collapsed, but I'm still proud of the experience.
Where will you be in 10 years?
No one knows that for sure. I would hope by then I would have evolved into an authority on entertainment, become a regular feature at the San Francisco Comics Convention, COMIC-CON. Of course, I hope by that time I won't have to complain about 'paying for the toast' in an interview. 😀
How does Africa inspire you?
If we were in a developed economy like say the States, you would not be interviewing me. Brands are so big and saturate the market that no matterhow talented you are as an artist in the States for example, you probably won't get far if you don't attach yourself to a big brand e.g. Marvel Comics. In Kenya/Africa, big brands are not a problem. This is where to be as an artist, especially as a route to the world.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I love your name Lulu*. I imagine it's a great muse for poetry! ;-D
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year? The next installment of Emergency?
The latest installment of Emergency, Issue #2, "The Devils," has just been uploaded today.
[*Lulu's note: Thanks Chief. For those who don't know, 'Lulu' is the Swahili word for 'pearl' or 'precious.' Good choice Dad! :)]
All images courtesy of and copyright Chief Nyamweya. To get further into the Chief's mind, check out his blog.