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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 00:15 GMT 01:15 UK
Kenya's bus stop cartoonist
By Tomi Oladipo
BBC News, Nairobi

Kenyan cartoonist Humphrey Barasa
Humphrey Barasa finds inspiration in politics and current affairs

Along Jogoo Road, a busy highway in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, one bus stop shelter stands out in the hustle and bustle of daily traffic.

A young, innovative artist has turned the bus stop into his very own daily cartoon strip.

For travellers waiting cover at the bus stop, Humphrey Barasa's cartoons provide an opportunity to catch up with light-hearted illustrations of daily life.

Mr Barasa has been drawing cartoons on the bus stop shelter for the last six years.

Although he doesn't earn any money from his drawing, it provides a platform for him to pursue his passion.

Unique location

The cartoons, which Mr Barasa draws on the face of the shelter, highlight various issues - from politics and politicians, to health and social issues - and act as a pictorial analysis of current affairs.

See how Humphrey Barasa gives his satirical cartoons a light twist

He says that before he started, he had to work on the neglected bus shelter so that it could be an appropriate canvas for his work.

"Before I started drawing here, this board there were so many posters as you can see. It was too dirty. So I came here and painted it to make it clean," says the artist, who was quick to identify a unique location for his art.

Apart from his artistic talent, Mr Barasa is also driven by his interest in politics and current affairs.

"I like news, I follow news on the television and I read newspapers daily. If I find something interesting, if an idea comes to me, I just draw," he says.

Humorous take

Although he deals with serious issues, Mr Barasa always gives a light twist to his satirical cartoons.

Kenyan Humphrey Barasa drawing
Drawing is my passion. I don't make any money from it, it's just for fun
Humphrey Barasa
Bus shelter cartoonist

In one cartoon he deals with the changes in the political arena as the country gears up for elections due in December.

The bus stop cartoonist adds his humorous take on the issue - the characters in the cartoon are dancing, not exactly typical behaviour for political rivals.

"We have President Kibaki and President Moi dancing together. We have Kalonzo Musyoka and Julia Ojiambo dancing together. And Raila [Odinga] is alone. He's protesting against the association of Kalonzo Musyoka and Dr Julia Ojiambo," he explains.

His cartoon perfectly captures recent political events, which have seen the evolution of alliances between former opponents, and bitter fall-outs between erstwhile allies.

Former President Daniel arap Moi last month announced he would support his successor President Mwai Kibaki's re-election bid, although they were opponents during the 2002 elections.

It's very, very excellent work. It always gives me inspiration and that's why I pass here every day
A fan of Humphrey's work
Jogoo Road, Nairobi
The main opposition Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K) split after Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga differed over who should challenge President Kibaki in the December polls.

In a single cartoon, Mr Barasa skilfully illustrates the intricate power struggles between the country's top politicians.

Rain or shine, Mr Barasa makes his way to his "office" and gets down to work.

Made their mark

He has won many fans, who visit the shelter every day to view his latest masterpiece.

"It's very, very excellent work. It always gives me inspiration and that's why I pass here every day," said one of his fans.

For other people, the lessons and positive messages he communicates through his cartoons have made their mark.

"I'm usually inspired by his work, mostly the political cartoons and the ones that deal with HIV/Aids. He has also been encouraging people to register as voters for the upcoming elections," said another fan.

Mr Barasa dreams of getting his big break and securing a job as a cartoonist for one of the country's leading dailies, for now he is content to have a stage where he can express himself.

"Drawing is my passion. There's no reason I won't continue drawing, because I love drawing. I don't make any money from it, it's just for fun," says the cartoonist turned newshound.






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