Posted March 9, 2012 by Gareth Roberts in Marriage

Young Africans are waiting until they are in their dotage before they go and see the beauty of Kenya

Kenya magics up images of lions, cheetahs, parched savannahs and a lone Maasai with a Nokia and while this is the picture often portrayed by holiday maker corporations, it isn't the image that most of us experience in Kenya for much of the time. Naively, I presumed each Kenyan would have seen an elephant hot footing its way across the road in order to get to the opposite side but was shocked that almost everyone has not been or have not wanted to see what's to the rest of the globe Kenya’s largest selling point.

A quick survey around the office, all 4 of us today, showed clearly that some young Africans are waiting until they're in their dotage before they are going and see Kenya’s beauty and are also put off by the cost the game reserves are charging residents. (OK, it isn't a very systematic survey but it is the just one I'm doing as the word systematic comes from science and that like computers is a feeble point of mine.)

Which gets me on to an annoying trend I'm seeing in our african arts centre here in Nanyuki. We are situated in a busy town in the middle of gigantic reserves and tourist lodges. We are on the holiday maker trail which obviously explains why I am seeing several artists, usually men but that is a different story, clutching canvases they have done of lions, cheetahs and any other mammal linked with Africa.

Me to artist “have you ever seen a lion?” Artist “No, I have copied it from a magazine”. Me to self, “I admire your truth young man but sadly your art falls into the category of curio art and not fine art.” Me to artist, “there are a row of dukas (shops) in the city that might be curious about your work but please come back to me with different work that comes from your soul”.

And one last point on this topic, largest most impressive selling point of Nanyuki is Mount Kenya. All of us who live here wake to see its beauty and its impressive force of structure. Artists it is on the doorstep, you see it each day, you cannot help but feel the power and it's free to view, why not paint that.

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Gareth Roberts