This year marked the golden jubilee for Paa ya Paa Centre - the first creative arts centre established during post-independent Kenya.

For those conversant with the local artistic circles sequential growth, the name Paa ya Paa resonates with a ring of familiarity and for the generation of earlier artists, a sense of fond nostalgia.

It all started half a century ago during 1965. A group of friends came together - each one keen on their collective resolve to possibly establish a pivotal meeting place in Nairobi.

The capital city's fledging arts scene was already teeming with an emerging pool of creatives. They sought to congregate on regular basis to share their artistic talent, wishful they too could contribute and shape the new nation's destiny.

Among this crop of young and ambitious Kenyans were visual artists, writers, a lawyer, broadcaster and a cartoonist; like moths to light - they got drawn by a shared vision to set up a creative centre.

"We were determined to plant seeds of artistic expression whilst the post independence regime was grappling with implementation of basic self-governance tenets - aimed at instilling a sense of patriotism for the evolving nationhood," recounts Elimo Njau.

Paa ya Paa Centre's vision took root as an art studio-cum-gallery, initially situated on the inter-section of Koinange and Moktah Daddah Streets. The veteran artist and Makerere University's School of Arts graduate however, does not take credit entirely for transformation of the art studio into Paa ya Paa Gallery in 1965.

"Its gradual establishment was more of a collective effort, alongside other founder members like Hilary Ng'weno, Pheroze Norowjee, Jonathan Kariara, Terry Hirst, James Kangwana, myself and my first wife Rebecca Njau," explains Elimo.

A series of events, book launches and art exhibitions were staged beginning early 2015 and throughout the year as part of centre's Jubilee anniversary celebrations.

Paa ya Paa has withstood the test of time dating back to mid 1960s. The affable Elimo undoubtedly, personifies a sense of continuity in the development of authentic East African creative art and expression.


Veteran artist Elimo Njau co-founder Paa ya Paa