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Society & Success

Remembering Maasai Mbili artist Ashif at Kuona art sale

The late Ashif ‘Shifta’ Malamba. It was decided
The late Ashif ‘Shifta’ Malamba. It was decided that art works would be for sale at ridiculously dirt cheap prices in order to attract art lovers to come and quickly buy Kenyan art. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Kenyan artists have been called upon to make an urgent sacrifice on behalf of one of their own. They are being asked to donate at least one of their original works of art to an urgent Art Sale at Kuona Trust on behalf of the family of the late Ashif ‘Shifta’ Malamba.

The art sale was originally meant to end Friday June 12, but as Ashif’s family has requested the artists’ financial assistance, the target goal of Sh250,000 has yet to be reached.

George Ashif ‘Shifta’ Malamba was one of the early self-taught sign-writing artists from Kibera to join the very special artists’ collective, Maasai Mbili, also known as M2.

Ashif’s contribution to the development of Maasai Mbili’s unique style of painting was immense and practically every M2 artists to join the collective has been influenced by his Sheng-like style of writing into his paintings.

According to one of M2’s founding fathers, Gomba Otieno, a larger ‘memorial’ showcase of Ashif’s work will be organised later this year; but for now, the immediate needs are for funeral arrangements.

Last Sunday, a group of local artists met at Kuona Trust to help organise Ashif’s Fundraiser Art Sale. At the same time, a fund was also launched for artists and other friends of Ashif to contribute to.

At that gathering, it was decided that art works would be for sale at ridiculously dirt cheap prices in order to attract art lovers to come and quickly buy Kenyan art.

That sale price may have back-fired on the organisers since it may have kept away artists who did not want to diminish the value of their artwork by being seen as ready to sell their work at a ‘throwaway’ price.

The low price tags have attracted shoppers to come to Kuona Trust. Many came to buy up the art, not necessarily to assist the family of Ashif.

Either way, the artists who put out the call for their fellow artists in the Kenyan art community to contribute either cash or art in kind to the sale also reminded artists that their families might one day need help, so isn’t this the time to remember the spirit of Harambee?

A Mchanga account has been set up so if someone would like to make a cash donation, all they do is text 4242 to 22231.

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