... the other Black experience

FEATURE: Art & Innovation - Visual Artist, Tahir Carl Karmali

Perseverance is one trait that we, as people of the African diaspora, have inherited due to the unbalanced economic, and societal climate forced upon us. Nonetheless, we’ve always been creative forces using our genius to find different solutions that will help us endure through tumultuous times.  One artist in particular, Kenyan-born artist Tahir C. Karmali, has helped to magnify this gift showcasing a way of survival through his ‘Jua Kali’ exhibit. 

By Tip Jordan, AFROPUNK Contributor



His work provides an honorable representation of how Kenyans have steady used the disownment of their government, and created a culture of triumph and beauty.

“There is an expression in Kenya: Jua Kali - this in the literal sense means "Hot Sun" and was the term given to laborers that worked outside and in a physically taxing job. This phrase has evolved over the years and now used as a term to describe informal workers and artisan that have not received any formal training in the job that they do.” - Tahir



“The philosophy behind ‘Jua Kali’ is what inspired me - it is this notion that no matter what, we are going to make it work with what we have around us. The idea that junk and scrap can be repurposed to create whatever we want.” -Tahir 


“Many Kenyans rely on the success of the Jua Kali artisans and the informal industry to keep our economy moving. More often then not a regular Kenyan person would have things made or fixed by a Jua Kali worker. The only success that our country has had is because of the determination of the people, not because our greedy politicians. Our politicians among other forces have been milking our country and leave us with scrap." -Tahir



As the influence of scrap metal being a resource in Tahir’s pieces, a Steampunk motif seams together the essence of his creations.


“It wasn't my intention to make them look like Steampunk characters. It turned out that they just did due to the concept of using scrap and junk. That said however - Steampunk is reminiscent of the industrial revolution and makes reference to invention/creativity. I feel that Africa is going through a kind of revolution, where all eyes are facing the continent for innovation and inspiration.” -Tahir


Tahir Carl Karmali is currently working on a project that explores the "In-Between." He stated, “As an expatriate in New York I feel like I occupy this transient space where I live in-between 2 realities that are equally valid. From this I am doing a photographic project that explores being an expatriate in NYC.”

Be sure to visit for more news and upcoming events.



* Tip Jordan's website:

Views: 1771


You need to be a member of AFROPUNK to add comments!


Latest Activity


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2017   Created by Matthew.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service