This stunning Papa Shirandula mural by bankslaveone is the most fitting of eulogies. Bankslaveone is an acclaimed Kenyan street artist famous for his commemorative depiction of modern heroes, alongside pieces on social activism on his canvas – the walls in the streets of Nairobi and beyond, in need of being brought to life. In this mural, he immortalizes the legendary Kenyan actor-comedian Charles Bukeko aka Papa Shirandula who passed on the Saturday morning of 18th July from COVID-19 complications.
Bankslave achieves a lot with this mural. First, it’s hard missing the Angelization of Papa Shirandula. The halo drawn around the late Kenyan Tv and Film legend’s beaming face gives us that. Moreover, the up-in-the-clouds effect visible at the bottom of the street wall mural serves only to canonize Omwami Charles Bukeko. Through dramatic use of depth, Bankslaveone comforts the nation: Our papa is gone to the world of Bakuka, but from the world yonder he watches down on us.
That said, Bankslaveone’s creative genius shines through in his symbolic artistic representation of the halo as the brass plated steel outer ring of Kenya’s new generation 10 shilling coin. Further, the partly hidden ‘1962’ is a nice touch to commemorate the year that the legendary Charles Bukeko was born Buhalarire, Kakamega near Busia, Western Kenya.
Lionised: Papa Shirendula Mural by bankslaveone
The less subtle messages of the Papa Shirandula mural by Bankslaveone considered, we owe it to ourselves to mull over the symbolism of this composition. For instance, one can say that the mural makes our late papa, President Papa. At least in the old practice of having the face of Kenyan coins carrying the face of a former president (Presidents: Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki).
As a consequence, this Bankslaveone piece wades into the fractious debate (over which symbols of unity and representation we wanted on our money) that captured the nation most of 2018. On December of 2018, the event positioned to coincide with our motherland’s 55th Independence, Kenya made true a pledge to change the images on its currency when it promulgated its new constitution in 2010. Maybe the message here is the problem never was our money bearing the portrait of individuals. Go figure.
Still on that halo. Deciphering the code of this commemorative piece of street art, in the lens of art and performance as fibers in the fabric of society, Charles Bukeko’s portrayal of Papa Shirandula is undoubtedly interwoven into the Kenyan fabric. Linus Kakai’s eulogy to the fallen Kenyan icon Charles Bukeko, who told our story at home and beyond, is the perfect backdrop to this preposition.
PAPA SHIRANDULA belonged to the special league of TV actors and actresses that earned near physical spaces in Kenyan households. Like MZEE OJWANG, MASAKU, MASANDUKU and others he reflected us; it’s painful another true teller of our story is gone. See tweet.
FARE THEE WELL, PAPA.
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