The Client Meant for Me

Her biggest challenge in life, was not running a business, she was managing that. No, her challenge was getting a decent access road, one that didn’t flood, or get muddy with each flash of rain. She needed money to fix the access road to their home. Her business could not afford it as an expense, yet. She couldn’t get a loan, so it was not a quick fix.

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Nouta Ahito stood at her door, her gaze intent, as she stared at the fat drops falling on the steps outside her house.  Rain, the blessed waters from the skies, the tears wept by the earth, her most feared enemy, taunted her.  The faster it fell, the more it mocked her, and she could do nothing.  She wished for super powers.  How wonderful it would be if she could wave her hand and stop this rain.  She groaned long and hard, and closed the door, escaping the upsetting scene.

Nouta walked to her chair at the dining table and stared at her cup of tea, now cold.

“What are we going to do?” her sister asked.

She looked up to see her sister watching her.  Everyone in the house knew that when it rained, she worried.  At some point, in the past two years, rain had become her nemesis.  She loved the hot months, and never complained even when it got too hot in January.  Everyone complained then, but not her.  No, hot months were her favorite days.

Why?

Well, during the warm months, she did not have to worry about a muddy access road.

Nouta was a business woman.  She ran a baking skills training workshop at her family home.  She was proud of her training workshop: a neat green building, constructed with mabati she had painted green.  She had furnished it with all the baking equipment she could find, and more to come.  She liked calling it a workshop because it was not an institution.

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

She enjoyed focusing on her work: on the process of imparting knowledge to a new baking student.  It was hands on, practical, and personal.  Her workshop would never be an institution.  She was proud of that.  However, banks consistently and with precise prejudice categorized her as a small business, without the enterprise in the SME acronym.  They did not look at her or favor her business.  Not even when she had all the necessary city and government permits.  Banks would not touch her with a ten-foot pole.

Sometimes, Nouta imagined, they probably smelled her coming into the bank to seek a loan for her small business and locked the vaults.

Don’t let her know we have the money, the officers would say to each other, and then chortle when she walked out.

She was too young, the loan officer would say.  As if, twenty-eight was just right, she thought.  Her faults were that she was single, with no rich husband in sight.  Her business was a passing fancy: because doing business in her family home was a temporary thing, a passing thing, it won’t last, they said.

Ah, her personal favorite was when once, a loan officer told her not to worry because her parents would get her a job soon.  In this day and age, jobs were about as available as unicorns in the sky.  Nouta rolled her eyes at that memory.  She doubted that loan officer had seen a unicorn in the sky.  How did he know her parents would help her find a job?  Her mother did not have that kind of motivation.

The rain amped up its rhythm as though demanding Nouta’s attention, she sighed.  Her biggest challenge in life, was not running a business, she was managing that.  No, her challenge was getting a decent access road, one that didn’t flood, or get muddy with each flash of rain.  She needed money to fix the access road to their home.  Her business could not afford it as an expense, yet.  She couldn’t get a loan, so it was not a quick fix.

Customers hated muddy roads, especially when they came from neat tarmac roads.  No one wanted to trudge through the mud and ruin good shoes.  She could understand that even respect it.  However, her business had to move forward.  She needed her customers to reach her, so that she could keep saving to fix the muddy access road.  And so, the love of sunny months and the hate and stress of rainy days started, and turned into her daily struggle.

Nouta got up from her seat and went to heat up her tea and sweet potatoes.  She needed a good breakfast.  She needed to be at full energy to convince the two women visiting her workshop today to sign up for a class.

What was a little rain, she thought.  What was a little mud?

She was strong enough to face down barbarians if they ever appeared in her corner in Nairobi.  Nouta chuckled at that stupid idea and set the microwave to heat her tea.

“We will manage,” she said to her sister, when she got back to the dining table.

“Well, if the two ladies don’t sign up, we’ll look for others,” Lita echoed, nodding her head.  “I’ll offer to get them from the road with gumboots, if they need it.”

“Or, we could pay someone to carry them on the back to the gate,” Nouta suggested, making her sister laugh so hard she almost spilled her tea.  “God help him if they are chubby.”

“As if that will happen,” Lita scoffed.  “We could try Mutheu’s mkokoteni.”

“I’m not pushing it in the mud,” Nouta said, thinking of the wooden cart with car tires Mutheu drove.  “Besides, he’ll just walk away if you suggest it.  He hates stupidity.”

Lita sighed and sipped her tea.

“It will work out, Nouta,” she said, her sure tone brought comfort to Nouta.

Lita always made it seem as though they could manage any kind of situation, and they did.  They always managed.

The first call of the day came right after breakfast.  Nouta answered her phone with a sense of calm.  Her first client was already on the way to visit the workshop.  She sounded levelheaded, and friendly.  Nouta took the opportunity to warn her of the rain.

“It’s a bit muddy,” Nouta said.  “Do you have sturdy shoes?”

“It was raining at my place too.  I’m prepared.”

“Okay,” Nouta said, hopeful.

She ended the call, giving her sister a small smile, though the nerves didn’t disappear.  They already had two students in place, and needed two more to fill the current class.  Two more to make a profit, otherwise they might need to cancel the class or do it at a loss.  This was their constant struggle.

It was nine in the morning.  The rain kept up for another thirty minutes, and then it stopped.  The sun stayed hidden behind clouds.  Their dirt road would take a while before it dried.  There would be mud; there was no escaping that reality.  Nouta finished her third cup of tea.

At ten, her first client called her.  She was at the end of the access road.  She sounded unsure about her destination.  Nouta came out of the house and went to stand at the gate.

“You’re on the right track,” Nouta assured her.  “I can come to you with gumboots.  Or meet you at the road—”

“Ah, I see you.  It’s not that far after all.  I’m on the way,” the lady said, and ended the call.

Nouta stood at the gate watching the woman who entered the access road.  Her steps were steady as she navigated the muddy road, jumping over puddles, and going around rough patches.  It took her five minutes to reach Nouta.

When she did, Nouta realized why the lady had been so confident.  She wore gumboots on her feet.  Black gumboots with a silver bow on the side, they were so handsome, Nouta could not help but smile wide.

Karibu,” she said, holding out her hand to her first client of the day.  “Welcome to Nolita’s Baking Workshop.”

“Hi, I’m Halima.  I’m so honored to meet you, Nouta,” Halima said, taking her hand in greeting.  “I have heard you’re the best in the city.  I’ve wanted to take classes with you, and always missed intake.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to sign up with you this time, so here I am.”

Charmed, Nouta launched into a conversation about the workshop and the upcoming classes, forgetting about the mud.

They entered the compound and went straight to the green workshop.  They talked for thirty minutes, and by the time Halima was ready to leave, she had paid a deposit.  Halima booked her spot for the class.  Nouta walked her to the gate, and once again remembered the state of the road.

“I’m so sorry about the road,” Nouta felt compelled to say.  “It’s not usually so muddy.”

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that,” Halima said, showing off her gumboots.  “Your road is just like ours at home.  I don’t mind it, Nouta.  I’ll see you on Monday next week.  I look forward to learning from you.”

Nouta smiled wide and waved Halima off.  The first client of the day had set her mind at ease.  She rushed back to the house in a pleased mood to share the news with her sister.

Flush with a win of the day, Nouta waited for the next call with less anxiety.  It came at around twelve o’clock.  The sun was peeking out, the ground less wet from the morning rain.  Nouta felt confident that their muddy road was easier to pass now, than earlier.  When she answered the call, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that her next client had a car.

Great, she thought.  This will be even easier.

Nouta gave her precise directions to their access road, and the lady promised to call when she reached.  It took another thirty minutes.  Nouta was surprised when she answered the call and the lady on the other end sounded less than cheerful.

“You didn’t tell me the road was so muddy.  Why would you keep that from me?”

“I’m sorry, I told you it rained,” Nouta said.  “Our access road is a dirt road.  I was very clear about that from the beginning.”

“No, no, no,” the lady said, as though saying it in threes made it more negative than it already was.

Nouta felt a flush of annoyance race through her.  She sat at the dining table working on her laptop.  Opening her email, she double-checked the message she had sent to the lady.  In the directions, she clearly stated the access road was a dirt road.  It was necessary, especially in Nairobi.  She had dealt with all kinds of people.  It was always easiest to describe the destination without rose-colored glasses.  Her home area was not upscale Lavington, but it also was not slummy, but a homey kind of area.  Farms and family homes dominated the street.

“I’m not sure I can make it for this class,” the lady on the other end said to her.  “First, it’s so far and now this muddy road…”

“Where are you coming from?” Nouta asked, curious.

“South C,” the lady said, indignation clear in her tone.  “It took me almost an hour to get here.”

Nouta wanted to point out that it took her just as long to get to Eastlands.  This was Nairobi, no place was close, and no place was far.  Two, last month, she had a student who had come all the way from Muranga every morning.  That was four to five hours away.  She was still awed at that boy’s dedication to his baking dreams.  He never missed a day, and was never late.

What was South C?  Ndwaru Road was not in Ukambani, but in Dagoretti.  Less than an hour away if you took the newly minted bypass.  She rolled her eyes, but did not voice her opinion.  She kept her tone calm when she spoke.

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Nouta said.  “Since you’ve come all this way, wouldn’t you like to see the place?  We can talk—”

“What about my car?” the lady asked.  “I can’t drive in to this mud.  Who can I ask to watch it?  I don’t even have gumboots to walk in the mud.”

Nouta fought the urge to talk back and pushed her chair back

“We have clean gumboots I can bring to you,” Nouta said.  “I’ll be at the road in five minutes.  Please wait for me.”

She ended the call and let out a frustrated groan.

Why had she attracted this lady again?  If she was from South C, why didn’t she then get a baking teacher from there?  Why come all the way here?  Why the frustration when the woman had a car?

Nouta found the clean gumboots.  She slipped her feet into her own used ones and gripped her phone tight as she left the house.  She headed to the road with an annoyed sigh.  Why did she need the money so bad?

Nouta breathed in and out on the five-minute walk to the main road.  She was right about the access road.  It was much easier to navigate, with only a single rough patch in the middle.  A car could manage it with no trouble.  When she reached the road, she bit back a curse word when she saw the white jeep waiting on the curb.  The driver rolled down the window and she met her second would be-client.

“Hi, I’m Rose.  You must be Nouta,” Rose said, smiling at her from the safety of her car.  “How come you don’t have a branch in town?”

Nouta slipped her phone into her jeans pocket.  She worried she might crash it with anger and frustration.  She hated this question most.  Did Rose even understand the logistics of opening a second branch in Nairobi town?  The capital that would involve, the amount of money she would need to sink into marketing to make both places work.  Why ask such a question?

Nouta smiled.

“Oh, we’re working hard to get one,” Nouta said in her most cordial voice.

“Oh well, I don’t think my car can make it through that mud,” Rose said, shaking her head, looking at the access road, disdain clear in her eyes.  “Is it always like this?”

Nouta bit her bottom lip, and breathed in and out.

“No.  It rained this morning.  If you give it a few hours, it will be good as new.”

“Why can’t you get it fixed?” Rose asked.

Nouta smiled, because the alternative was to shout, maybe shed a few tears of frustration.

“We’re working on it,” Nouta said.  “You know how it is.”

Actually, Rose’s expression said, she had no idea how it was to mobilize neighbors in such areas.  To get them to work with you, or otherwise, you work alone and find the money to fix the access road.  Nouta sighed and lifted the gumboots.

“You can wear these,” Nouta said.

She then pointed at the small parking lot in front of the small shopping center to her immediate right.  She was friends with all the shop owners in the center.

“If you park here no one will touch your car.”

“It doesn’t look safe,” Rose said, giving the shopping center a skeptical glance.

“It is,” Nouta said, her tone strong, leaving no doubt.

Rose looked at her for a minute, and then started the car.  When she backed up, Nouta took a moment to study the Jeep.  It looked too clean and the tires were new.  Rose had stopped the car at the entrance into the parking lot, and wasn’t moving.

Nouta closed her eyes, a tirade forming in her head.

‘Let me ask you a question,’ she wanted to say to Rose.  ‘Let me really ask you a question.  Do you want to tell me that you have never traveled upcountry?  Do you not visit your grandmother in your fancy car?  Are you telling me your big car does not and cannot drive on muddy roads?  What is a small stretch to the green gate?  Three minutes, probably less, those tires look new.  Are you telling me you can’t drive to that gate, to my place of business, because the road is muddy and not tarmacked?’

Nouta let frustration ride her for a full minute, and then she opened her eyes to find Rose still paused at the parking lot.

In life, there was one lesson she had learned.  She could not force someone into joining her class.  There was nothing like teaching a mind that was skeptical.  It felt like adding milk into an already full gourd bottle.

Rose looked like a full gourd bottle

Nouta hugged her clean gumboots and walked up to Rose’s car.

Rose’s window was open, so she smiled as Rose turned to look at her.

“I’m sorry, Rose.  I don’t think we’re meant to be.  I’m afraid it will rain all next week, and our road will be very muddy.  Thank you for coming all this way,” Nouta said.  “I will send you a free recipe e-book for the trouble.”

Rose studied her for a moment, and then smiled, as though relieved.

“It was nice to meet you, Nouta.”

“You too, Rose.”

Nouta smiled at her as courteous as could be.

In the next minute, Rose pulled out and was on her way back to South C.

Nouta worried she would need to monitor her social media pages, in case Rose wrote a bad review about her location, or even her experience.  She worried about this encounter until she was at her gate again, only to receive a call from her sister.

“Where are you?” Lita asked.

“At the gate,” Nouta said, heaving a sigh as she entered the compound.

“Oh great, we have a client who just paid for the class.  She wanted to meet you.”

“What?” Nouta grinned.  “How?”

“She walked in like three minutes after you went to deal with the one at the road.”

Nouta hurried to the green workshop her worries disappearing.  They had won the day.  Their class was full.  They had managed this round.  She would worry about the rest as it came, she decided.

For all the women in Small Medium Enterprises (SME). You are super women.

David Maloba – Illustrator in Kenya

I’ve been lucky to be introduced to awesome illustrators this month. This post today features another artistic talent based in Kenya, David Maloba. His art is fresh, and certainly, up and coming. I sent him a few questions for this interview, which he was glad to answer. Read on to discover what he has to say about his work.


Who is David Maloba?  Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do

I am a graphic designer who deals mostly with digital illustration portraits famously known as vector/vexel portrait artworks. They are cartoon style artworks that have artistic elements in them. It’s my daily drive and my passion, something I really love doing.

artwork by D. Maloba

I started out when I was in third year in the university. I bumped into a tutorial video on Youtube that had the whole process of making vector artwork using Adobe Photoshop. That tutorial helped me big time and due to my prior knowledge and skill in the software, it was easy for me to create this type of artwork. It took me a couple months of constant practice to be able to not only master the way to draw the artwork but also develop my own style. I am just simplistic for the simple reason, life.

You’re an Illustrator, what is your challenge in this industry in Kenya?

Well, being a digital illustrator in Kenya is kind of difficult because not many people know about it yet, and others haven’t accepted it as one of the forms of art. Let’s say for example, in my case, some people say I use filters while that isn’t the case. So cases like these tend to pull us behind and slow down the growth and recognition of this type of artwork. There is also the issue of low pay to no pay, where some clients might underpay you or even not pay you at all just because the artwork is drawn using a computer. They want it to be free. To do these artworks one needs certain tools, which are quite expensive to acquire, making it a challenge too. It’s also time consuming to do.

artwork by D. Maloba

EllyinNairobi Thoughts– Time consuming, but beautiful work!


..Keep creating. Someone will soon take notice of you. Keep your focus on and take each and every advice/comment positively. Some people might give you good reviews and some bad reviews, so don’t let them kill your morale with a few negative statements.

D. Maloba

What is your most favorite work and why? (Artwork you’ve done)

artwork by D. Maloba

My favorite artwork, I can say, is one I did of our esteemed president H.E Uhuru Kenyatta. It’s a special piece to me because it’s the one that I first got to print on canvas and second it exposed me to a wider range in terms of ideology and market. It’s something I am proud of doing each and every time I look at it hanging on the wall.

What type of skills or techniques do you need to develop for your work?

One needs to be creative, to know how to draw different elements and the knowhow of drawing using computer software like Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/Inkscape/CorelDraw, just to mention a few.

Who is your inspiration?

My inspiration is Zac Dynes. His style of work is just simple and amazing. He is the one who motivates me to work hard to develop my artwork.

What is your dream/Goal? Where do you see yourself as an illustrator in a year or two?

artwork by D. Maloba

My dream/goal is to see my work inspire more Kenyans like me to develop and grow this kind of digital illustration portraits. Though it hasn’t gotten recognition like other forms of traditional art, it’s steadily picking form by the day.

In one/two years’ time I see myself being successful and having my own digital illustration company/business where young illustrators will have a chance to showcase their works and get the knowhow of how to develop their art and also make a career out of it.

Who is your favorite artist/illustrator?

My favourite digital illustrator is Zac Dynes. He is one of the few artists who have a unique style of drawing illustrations. He calls them “drip art” going by how he expresses them with the drip effect.

What’s the last book/comic you read and why?

 Wow!!! It’s been long. Ok, the last comic I read is Unaffected by my best friend Humphrey Osoro. First of all, it’s obviously done by a Kenyan, has a good story line plus nice illustrations and a work many people have not yet gotten the chance to read because of lack of belief in Kenyan comics due to other foreign comics being given a number one spot/platform. It’s work that inspires me to work harder to grow my art. So, I can say I enjoyed reading it because it has humor in it, plus the illustrations are just amazing. I urge people to go and check it out because they will not be disappointed.

What are your thoughts to aspiring Illustrators in Kenya?

First and foremost is to always put GOD first in all that you do.

Second, is to keep creating. Someone will soon take notice of you. Keep your focus on and take each and every advice/comment positively. Some people might give you good reviews and some bad reviews so don’t let them kill your morale with a few negative statements.

artwork by D. Maloba

Third, do more research on illustration because it’s growing at a fast rate with different kinds of styles coming up. Also, interact with fellow illustrators not just in Kenya but other parts of the world and get to know how they do their artwork to have a better understanding of the art. I, myself, have interacted online with a few and also seen works they have done. For example, Paul Kawira, theartofvosty and Joe impressions just to mention a few. They have amazing artwork, go check them out too.

Connect with David Maloba

Are you interested in creating a project with David’s help? Connect with him on Instagram – @maloba_david

Elly’s Thoughts

And, there you have it! Passion, Commitment, Research (get your knowledge pool going) and Consistent Dedication! All the goodies you need to cultivate to be a creative! It’s always inspiring to discover the creative journey from a different perspective. Whatever it is you want to do, know that you can achieve it. Keep creating folks!

How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya by Kariuki Waweru

On this post, we celebrate and feature one of Kenya’s Registered Valuers, Kariuki Waweru. He has written an invaluable book on How To Invest in Real Estate in Kenya. This book has a wealth of information on how to invest, tips on home ownership in Kenya and how to navigate the confusing world of loans and mortgages in Kenya. Mr. Kariuki was kind to answer my questions on his book and his publishing journey. Let’s take a look!

1. What is the most favorite question you’ve ever gotten from a reader?

I have had people who are at the verge of making a decision on real estate investing and when they ask questions, I direct them to the book. (How To Invest in Real Estate In Kenya). It feels good to have all the answers to their questions in one book. Feels like the motto for Nakumatt, “ You need it, we’ve got it”.

2.  Did you always want to be a published author?

I didn’t always want to. My first article was on whether to buy a car or a plot? I was dating my then fiancée, now my wife, and I needed to convince her that land is a good investment but I also knew that a car can earn one some extra cash… so I thought I should write down my arguments and see. I did that and she was very impressed. She encouraged me to keep writing and I wrote so many articles which I could send to her. She then encouraged me to start a blog, which I did. It’s now called www.kariukiwaweru.com … I then extracted some articles from the blog to publish my first book and extracted some more to publish my second book.

3.  What prompted you to write, ‘How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya’?

After publishing my first book in 2012 and revising it in 2014, I realized that there was a gap in the market for a more practical book. Between 2016 and 2018, I went through a practical hands on experience of taking a commercial bank loan, a mortgage, buying a plot, building my family a house and investing in a commercial property for rental purposes. I blogged about this journey, the lessons learned and these came to refine my consultancy journey  and made me a more practical consultant. I compiled all the experience and lessons learned and came up with this book. This book has everything you need to know about home ownership, commercial investments, loans and mortgages set in a Kenyan context by a Kenyan Registered Valuer and consultant.

4.  What is your most memorable experience as a Registered and Practicing Valuer in Kenya? 

It took me 13 years from the time in joined the University of Nairobi as a first year BA Land Economics student to becoming a Registered  Valuer. Getting that title was my highest professional achievement and a culmination of dreams… it was a dream come true.  Later on, seeing my name published in the Kenya Gazettee alongside the less than 600 valuers in Kenya since Kenya got its independence was also one of my greatest achievements.

5. You have published two books, that is, ‘The ABC of Real Estate Investments in Kenya’ and now ‘How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya.’

a. What has your publishing journey been like?

I have learned a lot. There is need to keep reviewing your work, get good editors and designers and most importantly a good person to print the book. My first book was poorly printed in downtown Nairobi and I had to redo the printing and change the layout and design in 2014. This current book, I have used very well established printers and designers (which is quite costly) and I have not regretted the outcome. 

b. Which book was easier to publish?  The first or the second?

The second was easier as I knew exactly what I wanted and how to go about the publishing, editing and marketing.

c. What challenges, if any, did you face the first time, and were they present the second time around?

The challenges from the first time were using inexperienced designers and printers to do my work. This cost me a lot in terms of money and time.

6.  What is your view on publishing books in Kenya?

I think we should immortalize ourselves through publishing books.

7.  What advice would you give to someone hoping to publish his or her first book?

The longest journey starts with a single step. Start writing. Start a blog… your readers will critic your work and you will be a better writer. Once you are ready, talk to someone who has published before and learn from them on how to proceed.

8.  Lastly, will you write another book?  What do you think the title will be?

God willing I will write many other books. Ng’ugi wa Thiong’o has more than 15 titles under his name…I have 3…I’m just getting started.

The titles normally come after the content is done…so I don’t have any ready titles as yet.

Elly in Nariobi’s Thoughts:

It is always so inspiring to see an author’s journey in to publishing. If you’re wondering if the journey is possible, I hope Mr. Kariuki’s answers are enough to let you know that yes, it is. Whatever your idea, fiction or non-fiction, you can get it published in Kenya.

How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya is a great addition to your bookshelf.

1. Because it simplifies the process of purchasing land, navigating mortgages and helping plan for the future in terms of real estate investments.

2. All the content is based on Kenyan experiences. I always feel we need more professionals sharing, and demystifying their industries for Kenyans, as Mr. Kariuki has done.

To purchase this book:
The book goes for Kshs. 500.

Email – info@kariukiwaweru.com or Visit our shop at Shililia stores, El Roi plaza, Ground floor. Tom Mboya street next to Odeon or call 0793772490.

Humphrey Osoro – Comic Artist & Graphic Designer in Kenya

Are you curious about what it’s like to be a Comic Artist and Graphic designer in Kenya?

I’m excited to feature Humphrey Osoro who fits both of these titles. There was a time I thought I’d try to be a comic artist ( manga-ka – CLAMP had inspired me at the time) but the drawing talent was missing and I definitely prefer to read them.

So, I’m beyond excited to present this interview from Humphrey who has worked to realize the dream for himself. I hope his answers inspire even more comic artists in Kenya.

Q. Who is Humphrey Osoro?

A; I’m a comic artist and graphic designer based in Kenya. I make comics on the side and do my graphic design work as my day job. I’m a simple guy really, I love anything comics. Anything that tells stories just gets my attention: whether it’s movies, a good book or even a good work of art.

Q. So, why comics?

A. Growing up, I dabbled a lot in traditional art forms and in creative writing/storytelling. Once I got good at both, I wanted something that could combine the two and comics did that for me. Comics allowed me to combine my artistic side with my writer side. I was now able to use my art to tell an actual written story and since then I’ve been hooked on it.

Q. What’s your inspiration?

A; My main inspirations are guys like Jason Brubacker (author and artist of RE-mind webcomic), Tim Bradstreet (Punisher comic covers) and writers like Elaine Kamari in Kenya (Her blog is “Elly in Nairobi”). (EK dances like a fan girl at the mention). All these people push me to keep improving and work that much harder at my craft

Q. You’re a Comic Artist.  What is it like establishing yourself in Kenya?

A; Being a Comic Artist here in Kenya is very different from another Country like let’s say Japan. Over there, they have Otaku Culture, which is this strong following around their manga (Japanese comics) and anime artwork. It’s a little easier to kick off a career as a comic artist and all this is possible because people are aware of what manga art is and they appreciate the value of it. Those guys are basically rock stars in the art world in Japan. Japanese – owned companies like Viz Media who run “Shonen jump” and many others have capitalized on this and they sponsor these artists. They also give new upcoming artists opportunities in their magazines by running their work in black & white, only giving them coloured runs when they prove successful with the masses. This system works very well there, the artist gets paid his due, people get to read good content, everyone’s happy.

In Kenya, the picture is a little different. It’s harder to establish yourself here. Comics just started getting popular recently, so not many people even knew what they were. Some can’t tell the difference between a comic book and a cartoon strip in the editorial newspaper, so it’s a bit of an uphill task trying to explain what it is you’re making. Most really just think that comics are meant for kids, which isn’t the case. Comics these days are more targeted at adult themes like crime, passion etc. They address such a wide variety of topics as opposed to a few years ago when they were exclusively limited to children’s themes. It’s the younger generation that grew up watching these cartoons on TV, like myself, who make up the bulk of the current comic readers and artists. These people are the ones who appreciate the true value of comics. They recognize that comics are like movies, just in picture form. These are the readers that give me hope that the industry is heading in the right direction.


Giving up gets you nowhere. People will eventually start taking notice of you if you stick around long enough. You’ll start getting calls and gigs you never thought you’d get. The beauty of it is, not everyone has the patience to make a comic, so count yourself lucky, they’ll look for you specifically. So hold on, keep cranking out some art!

H. OSoro

Establishing oneself as a comic artist here in Kenya is a bit of an uphill task, though once you do, it’s really rewarding. You really have to be patient as it doesn’t happen in a day. Anyone willing to take on this behemoth of a task should be willing to take the untraveled path. If you’re an introvert like me, then be prepared to polish up those people skills. You’ll have to hit the ground running, reach out to other comic artists in the industry, learn from them but don’t expect too much from them (They’re also struggling as much as you are, just at a different level). In short, its a labour of love, you do it because you love the craft, money will follow in spades.

Speaking of money, don’t quit your day job just yet. Because no one knows who you are, chances are no one will be willing to give you any commission. Most of the Kenyan mindset is of the opinion that western stuff is better than the locals, which is true, but only because those guys got a chance to shine. They were all beginners like us, it’s just that someone listened. If you don’t aggressively market yourself, you’ll never get anywhere here. Prepare to be ignored online, receive cold stares when you make proposals and many more of the stuff I can rattle off the top of my head.

But, its not all gloom, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Get inspired by other people when you’re down. I recommend reading Elaine Kamari’s post on Self Publishing here in Kenya in her blog “Elly In Nairobi”. Everything was so much clearer and easier after reading that, so give it a chance. Giving up gets you nowhere. People will eventually start taking notice of you if you stick around long enough. You’ll start getting calls and gigs you never thought you’d get. The beauty of it is, not everyone has the patience to make a comic, so count yourself lucky, they’ll look for you specifically. So hold on, keep cranking out some art!

Q – The first 30 pages of your comic, The Unaffected Resolve- Chapter 1 are released at 254Comics.com.  Will you release Volume 2 at 254comics too?

A; Yes, definitely! The book is actually more than just those 30 pages, I released those because they were the ones already done in colour. It’s actually 114 pages long. Yeah, I know. That’s a LOT of pages. Well, when I began making the book, I decided I would create the thing until I finished the whole of Chapter 1. I’ve written dozens of scripts for “The Unaffected Resolve”, they’re a total of 11 Chapters for the first story arch. Each script has more than 24 pages of words in it, which in a comic made up of pictures and those words translates to almost 100 pages. 100 is the magic number because I’m targeting at creating a true graphic novel of “Resolve”. Each Chapter will have at least 100 pages so that at long last they can be compiled together into a 500-page graphic novel. My inspiration is the likes of Graphic novels like “Akira” in Japan. Now that one has 600 plus pages!

Right now, this comic book is finished, though in black and white. I’ll release the rest slowly as I keep colouring but you can head over to 254comics and read the first 30 pages in all its full colour glory. Stand by for a review of the book here by Ellie, It’ll be a detailed review of all 114 pages so for those who want to get an idea about it, stay posted right here. Though here’s some bonus art for Chapter 2 that’s currently in the kitchen! Completely reworked art-style for chapter 2!

H. Osoro Art – Unaffected Resolve – Chapter 2

Q. You’re also an illustrator, what type of commissions have you taken on since your start?

A; I’ve done so many of them so far. I used to dabble in the traditional pen and paper collisions whereby someone wanted a hand-drawn piece. I still do them but only exclusively because of how taxing they are.

I also did a lot of painting on canvas for clients and friends. These were really enjoyable, seeing a mess of colours come together into a nice final piece of art is just so satisfying.


I also do book illustrations. I’ve worked with publishing companies mainly on children’s illustrations. These are done digitally and require a completely different kind of art style. My style is usually highly detailed and complex, so having to make them simple was a nice fresh change for me.

H. Osoro

I also do book illustrations. I’ve worked with publishing companies mainly on children’s illustrations. These are done digitally and require a completely different kind of art style. My style is usually highly detailed and complex, so having to make them simple was a nice fresh change for me. I do these in a cartoony kind of style that will appeal to the kids. The biggest book illustration project had me handling 65 coloured pages. I was able to crank out 10 pages a day at the time so within a week I was done. It was challenging but it taught me a lot about sticking to deadlines.

I’ve also handled logo design, business cards, banners, strips, posters and other stuff relating to Graphic Design. I’m a Graphic Designer by profession at the Nation Media Group at the moment, so I do the normal graphic stuff like making advertisements, proposals, posters etc. It’s been an eye opener on what it really takes to be a good Graphic designer. So anyone looking to be an effective Graphic designer, try applying there and see if you’ll get lucky. The deadlines and pressures at work really prepare you for when you have to deal with clients in your illustration hustle. Overall, it’s the illustration type of logos and designs that really pique my interest. I find these make full use of my talents as a human being. I get to combine both Graphic Design and my love for illustration.

H. Osoro art

I can say that as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing comics since the beginning. I did them for my high school magazine back at “Friend’s School Kamusinga“. It was a piece called “Demolishon” that addresses many of the negative vices in society. I still do it today, so make sure to check out my Facebook page & other media platforms. I finally undertook a personal project to create my own comic book back in 2017. It’s called “The Unaffected Resolve”, go check it out at 254comics.com. There’s nothing more I enjoy like making comics, it’s like seeing a movie in your mind and your hands are there to translate that to paper.

In comics, I’ve done comic pages for a couple of clients that I really can’t name due to non-disclosure agreements. I also offer some of those comic book services to fellow artists whereby I do inking of your basic sketches and colour them for you at an agreed fee. A good example of this, is a good friend of mine, he’s called “Kimzy Flimzy” on Facebook, go check out his art. We collaborate on a couple of gigs when he’s really busy and I step in to help out so we can beat the deadlines, so big thanks to you bro if you’re reading this!

Q. What is your creative process like?  Do you have a favorite spot where you must work?  Or a favorite pen?

A; My creative process is simple. It usually starts out with me just closing my eyes and playing out a movie in my mind. I see the characters, I see them alive, breathing , talking and moving about. From here when I grab my pen to sketch them out it’s easier from there.

When I’m down on creative gas, I just put everything down and let loose. Play a computer game on my PlayStation, ride my bike on a mountain run in my area because there’s so many cycling trails over here or just get down and do some exercise.

My favourite pen is the good old blue “Bic” pen. The ones we all used in high school and campus. I was that kid that looked like he was paying attention but if you looked closely, you’d always find me sketching. I sketch everyday. I found that by doing this, I was able to master movement of my characters by not being too rigid in my drawing approach. So yeah, get a trusty pen, doesn’t need to be blue like mine!

Q. What would you say to aspiring comic artists and illustrators in Kenya?

A; First, nothing comes easy. You want to be a comic artist? Then be prepared to be a jack of all trades because if you only know one thing, then chances are you won’t succeed. Take the time to learn other forms of traditional art, learn the basics of proportion, colouring and more. All these will apply at some point when you’re working on your book.

Second, consider learning some basic Graphic Design. You ask, “Why?” Well, because comics are essentially picture books at the end of the day. This will equip you with knowledge on layout, formatting of your book since chances are no one around you knows how to format a comic book. (The dimensions of a comic are different from your average book on the shelf.)


First, just have your comic ready. Finish it. At least in Black & White because you need to have something to put in front of your potential readers. From here, market the hell out of your book through various channels available such as blogs, social media platforms etc.

H. Osoro
H. Osoro art

Third, be assured it’ll take some time before you get your name out there. First, just have your comic ready. Finish it. At least in Black & White because you need to have something to put in front of your potential readers. From here, market the hell out of your book through various channels available such as blogs, social media platforms etc.

I could go on and on but at the end of the day it depends on you. How badly do you want to tell your story? Because I know you didn’t get into comics to just make money, you had this story in your head you wanted to share with the world. You do it because you love the craft, even when you’re paid peanuts. Now that’s true passion right there. I know I did, so what about you?

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Read The Unaffected Resolve – Chapter 1

Saturday afternoons in the Flower garden

Today, our favorite companions, two white cats, with the most expressive eyes.  I, most times, believe they understand every word we say.  They’re both girls and get those moments when they huff and walk away…..clearly, they’re speaking here.

I saw them playing in the flower garden and it reminded me of another Saturday not too long ago.  As mentioned before, I love gardening, flowers growing around the house, digging fingers into the dirt…all of it is therapeutic and a great mind-clearing exercise, as Mum says.

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So, on this Saturday, we (Mum and me, worked in the flower garden, while my sister baked) spent time weeding, loosening dirt for the flowers, kneeling right in to pull out weeds. It doesn’t take long.  Afternoons are the best around three p.m., going into dinnertime.  It’s funny, but when we start working, everyone in the compound gravitates to that spot, and wild conversations arise.  The last time, my sister (the bakerette), was reminiscing on when we were kids and each of us got a small patch to dig and plant.  We each had digging tools, and even planned out what to plant.  Of course, Our Mum would be supervising, and we grew flowers mostly, while she planted veggies, but it was a fun way to keep us occupied. Many years later, looks like we’re all still tending to flowers, and pretty grass.  Of course, our little helper, Bindi the cat, always inspects the job, to make sure it was done right.

Afterwards, we all sat on the stairs having tea with pancakes made by our in-house bakerette. Thinking about gardening today, I went to check the flower gardens thinking next Saturday, we need to do some garden work…the cats seem to agree.

Read a Story:

Save My Heart is available here, get the pdf, and read away.

 

 

Art Adventures at the Hotel Waterbuck-Nakuru

 

It feels like it’s been a while since I went on a road trip, so this was incredibly fun.  Nothing on the mind, but being on the road, noting random things, lush green scenery and that family of zebras, having their lunch.

 

Nakuru was rainy when we got there, so our contact sent us a tuk tuk man.  I now believe everyone should have Mr. Ngugi when you first hit Nakuru.  He got us around town and answered a billion questions with patience.

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View from inside Mr. Ngugi’s Tuk Tuk.

We had a stress free transport time thanks to him.

The trip was a fun day out, but it was also for a conference, organized by Topserve Baking Accessories and supplies, who have relaunched their shop in Nakuru.  The Conference was held at Hotel Waterbuck, Nakuru.  While the event continued, it was hard to ignore these gems on the walls of this hotel.  So much art, there is no chance you will be bored checking in to this hotel.

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Join the Jazz Band

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All that and a Cup of Coffee

Nakuru is about 3hrs away from Nairobi.  Very quiet, very laid back, and definitely a lot of fun to be had.  New Goals after this trip –> Not to take everything too seriously, gotta take time to have fun.

Check out Hotel Waterbuck next time you’re in Nakuru.  If not to stay overnight, then to eat, at their delish restaurant.

3 Important Things for Kenyans to Remember

I’m guilty of falling into a dark repetitive cycle when what I expected doesn’t happen, or changes into what I didn’t want.  #ElectionsKe is a great example of jumping into this dark repetitive cycle that leaves you spinning on the same spot. Questions like, ‘Why is this happening?’ ‘Can’t they just stop or agree?’  ‘Oh my god, there is this side, and that side.  That side is definitely out to get this side‘, fill the mind. The blaming, the shaming, the hating, the pointing fingers…this is just a small part of the dark repetitive cycle, earlier mentioned.

You have to make a conscious effort to pull yourself out of there.  To remember the important things, despite the turmoil bred by politics.

  1. Your Life’s Goals – Focus on that instead of negativity.  Allowing yourself to be imagessucked into the dark cycle will only derail your life’s goals.  This isn’t easy, especially for those of us in business. Every day Kenya continues in a state of anxiety, the harder it is to buy and sell, manufacture and deliver.  Costs run up, so we’re forced to think of new ways to achieve our goals.  It’s a challenging experience, but one that’s way more important than jumping into the dark cycle.
  2. Kenya is not one person, it is all of us.  Be kind to your neighbor as you have always been before, are now, and should be in the future.  We can only grow together.
  3. Let the Giants fight it out.  The rest of us, keep living, building, growing what matters to us, in our lives.  The giants won’t pay for your rent, give you money for your house, and family.  They won’t know what you’re eating for dinner, or breakfast.  You can only do one thing, vote, the rest, leave it to our more than capable Justice branch.

Meanwhile, raptly waiting to do what I can, which is vote as needed, then see new trends, like #githeriman #Chilobae  on my nearest screen, and smile in amusement at the Creativity in this country. Gotta love it! While doing my own thing, through it all, because that’s what matters to me and my family.

This is a Blog Hop Post! For a writing group called Literati.  The best bunch of people I’ve gotten to know.  Totally inspiring you and making you aspire to do better too…

Read other posts.

  1. Politics 101
  2. The Ballot Box has a Hole