NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – The ball-pen created in the 19th Century was a neater means of writing compared to its predecessor the fountain pen. It was considered smooth, consistent and cheaper to use.
Nuru Bahati Shukrani has discovered a way of using the pen to make a brighter life for himself after a difficult childhood.
His name which is derived from the Swahili culture deep in the heart of the coastal region of Kenya has had a direct impact in moulding the person he has grown to be. Translated into English the name expressed the virtues of light, good luck and gratitude.
Biro artistry is a little known form of art that has yet to be fully explored. Nuru however made it work for himself and today is one of the few biro artists. His work mainly concentrates on Africa as a continent.
Born in the coastal region, Nuru Bahati was orphaned at a tender age that saw him face unimaginable challenges together with his siblings and soon after his secondary school he moved to “The Land of Cool Waters” Nairobi to search for greener pastures and hopefully further his education.
From stories of his peers, Nuru knew that whenever one came to Nairobi they would make a living and have the time of their lives. Hence to attain the success and independence he was so desperate for, he had to come to Nairobi.
Without a guardian, Nairobi didn’t turn out to be all rosy, he found it hard to survive going without food days without number and no money and a roof over his head. He and had to rely on well wishers who didn’t come easy to give him a helping hand.
As the saying goes “it’s always darkest before dawn” and Nuru can attest to it as his life started to look brighten when he got a scholarship to the Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts to nurture his talent in biro art.
Having tapped into a little known art, Nuru faced challenges as he tried to get people to sponsor and support his art. Many dismissed him terming it as a waste of time and money and even his family told him to get a “real job”.
“Biro artistry is the cheapest yet most expensive art because you barely have a market where you can sell it and until the piece is finished it is hard to explain,” says Nuru.
“I do not sell my pieces, instead I let my clients pay me what I think the piece is worth and out of this 10 percent give towards helping build another artists career, 40 percent toward one of the children’s homes and the rest I use to purchase canvas and pens for my work,” he said.
Nuru explains that each portrait he does he chooses the colour of the pen depending on the personality of the person. This means that before he does a piece he has to have met the person and interacted with the.
“Red depicts a strong willed person who is out spoken, bold and ultimately love. Green depicts a calm and composed personality while Blue depicts a fun loving sociable individual,” says Nuru.
Nuru believes in servant leadership and thus he does not stop at that, he is involved in many Non- Governmental Organizations that aid public schools paint useful information on the walls for the school that aids the students in learning.
“I and a group of artist friends started an initiative with Primary schools in the slum where we paint their walls with information that aids them in learning as a means of creating a fun way of learning,” he added.
He has helped nurture talents of artists who mainly include youth in the slam in a bid to get them off the streets and a life of crime. He holds art showcases various studios in the country where these artists who can’t afford to pay for a gallery space come and showcase their work to various art guru’s in the industry in hope to get recognition.