NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 14 – Along Limuru road, meters from the UN complex, you won’t miss the merchants by the road side. Their artworks stand out and serve the up market society.
It’s is on this very road you will notice Eric Ombija, a 27-year-old artist. One can mistake his overall for an abstract art. The paint spectrum only reveals the experience the father of two has under his paint brush.
What will quickly catch your eye is the 25 inch Obama painting that stands tall above all and oblivious of the fact he has an average body, his smile and charm draw you closer.
“My name is artist Ombija, and I am living my dream,” he welcomes me as he looks to his paintings.
Hardly a fortnight to Obama’s visit to Kenya, Ombija has for close to a year done numerous draft paintings of Obama. The final piece he canvassed took him a month to put together.
“I developed an interest to paint Obama in 2008 while he was doing his campaigns. Since I was brought up as an orphan by my grandmother, I was determined to make something out of my life. Obama was an inspiration to me. My hero, for he is a Kenyan determined to be the President of America. I just had to paint him,” Ombija opens up with a grin.
During his high school days, Ombija happened to have met former CEO of General Motors East Africa William Lay who at the time noticed his skill of the brush at an early age and armed him with two drawing books and a set of colour pencils.
“When I met Lay, he gave me proper tools for I was fond of drawing on flour packing paper and walls with charcoal and coloured stone,” he says. “My first ever drawing was that of former President Moi,” he explains looking to the sky. Perhaps to rekindle his childhood art work.
Ombija walks 25 kilometres to his work place, but he is quick to share that Gigiri was his only available space and he was optimistic his paintings would help him to shelter and feed his house wife, two younger brothers and his children in his one bedroom house in Lakisama, Kasarani.