• Jomo Kenyatta Statue/ James Butler

Architects: James Butler  
Location: Nairobi,  Kenya
Project Year: 1973
Photographer: Edwin Seda

Year: 1969
Unveiling: 1973

The Jomo Kenyatta statue is an 80-year-old British sculptor’s masterpiece by the name James Butler. The intricately double life-size, 12-foot, seated statue of President Jomo Kenyatta in 1969 with every detailed aspect to a birthmark on the president’s face and his trademark peep toe sandals.  But it was after he was commissioned to create the double life-size, 12-foot, seated statue of President Jomo Kenyatta in 1969 that his life changed into quitting teaching at the City & Guilds of London Art School to became a full-time sculptor. The cast bronze statue was entirely made in England with every detail intact and was then shipped from England by container to Mombasa and was then driven by truck to Nairobi and installed in its current location.

In all essence it is the gateway to the Conference center. It has that quality of aging with grace, the bronze darkened and finely sculpted to the Founding father’s almost daunting resemblance.

A view from every angle of this statue shows you just how much it is an integral part of the KICC square. Approaching it from the front gives you the kick as a backdrop, in its own veracity a magnificent masterpiece, and this would have proven a hard nut in competing with the detail involved. the sculptor, Butler , has the statue of the president sitting on a podium of reinforced concrete, bush hammered and detailed with the sculptor’s own signature and year of installation, in fine four buttoned suit and traditional African gear covering the suit and head. His hands rest on his ‘fimbo’ a common denominator with him (Jomo Kenyatta) in his rule when he always had a defining item at hand. And he is looking beyond…

The statue is an island by itself and can be approached from multiple areas both visually and physically which is a valuable status within space defining elements. Its stark in the middle of the court, raised above the average and atypical human height and parts the central axis leading to the steps of the KICC building. Standing at the gate one can almost see ‘him’ sitting next to KICC as if to say we were here. It has the unmistakable character of an icon and can easily be the best defined statue in the country (Kenya).

Particularly interesting to note is that materiality in this statue has been kept at a rheostat’s reach. The main defining element is the bronze, a dark almost somber color covers the main feature that the sculptor wanted to showcase, the full real size figure. The other mentionable part with bronze is the plaque which offers the information for the statue. The rest is a deliberate concrete mass that though huge and far outmatched the statue itself in size, still dims to the background as the bronze is a unique element in this selected environment.

The art piece was unveiled in 1973 (when KICC was opened) to mark 10 years of independence.

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