Babushe: A Beacon of Art in Kenya

Babushe alias Joseph Maina is a hero hailing from Nakuru County who champions for the county (and the whole country) as a hub for culture, art, and creativity. In his late 60s now, Babushe’s passion for art – especially stage plays – started during high school.

Babushe moved to Nairobi upon completing his high school studies to expand his imagination, channel his inner curiosity, and develop a network of like-minded people. In Nairobi, he became an active visitor and participant at Kenya National Theater and Goethe Institut.

Bankslave and Babushe pausing for a photo.
Bankslave (left) pausing for a photo with Babushe (right) in Nakuru. Behind them is a mural of Babushe done my Bankslave.

He witnessed and experienced a great drawback in Nairobi brought about by the government’s resistance to theatre plays that exposed and highlighted corruption. Professa Nyoori by Wahome Mutahi and The Marriage of Sigona were among the plays that brought tensions during this era. During an interview with The Standard Media, Babushe singled out Sweetest Taboo as one of his best plays on humour.

As a strong believer in the power of literature and art to shaping society, Babushe didn’t allow his fears to hold me back from the government’s barbaric actions against socio-political theatre plays. He is among those who protested the government’s plot to dispose of Kenya National Theatre in the mid-1990s due to the political theatre plays that often criticized the government for corruption.

Babushe also found (and still finds) great satisfaction in mentoring those around him. He played a mentorship role to the late Papa Shirandula. Still, in line with mentorship, he currently works in Nakuru with community-based organizations and the County government on creative projects to make the country a creative hub.

Babushe pausing for a photo with his mural in the background.

He has also put Nakuru on the global map as a “City of Crafts and Folk Art… aimed at supporting sustainable small businesses in the creative economy and improving quality of life for artists” through the Urukan Arts and Culture hub project.

Bankslave, while in Nakuru earlier this year, made a mural of Babushe to celebrate his contribution to the country’s creative industry.

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