Meet Kenyan Teacher With Winning Statues in 12 Countries

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta and Gerald Motondi during the unveiling of the EnglishPoint Marina statue in Mombasa
    President Uhuru Kenyatta and Gerald Motondi during the unveiling of the EnglishPoint Marina statue in Mombasa
    File
  • Gerald Motondi a teacher at Asumbi Teachers Training College is renowned in art circles around the world. 

    Having been born and brought up in the heartland of soapstone sculpture in Kisii, Gerald has participated in art symposiums and competitions around the world.

    When he immersed himself in art at an early age, he faced criticism from people in his village who wondered why an educated young boy was engaged in such work. 

    Gerald Motondi at work carving soap stone
    Gerald Motondi at work carving soap stone
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    In his community, soapstone carving was a preserve of school dropouts and casual labourers. 

    Gerald Motondi's scupluture in Canada
    Gerald Motondi's scupluture in Canada

    “My parents discouraged me because some boys were dropping out of school to join the carving business at the expense of attending school. However, I was able to balance my art apprenticeship and schooling,” he explained.

    Motondi has sculptures in 12 counties including China, India, South Korea, US, Canada, Russia and Turkey.

    In Kenya, he is credited for the Mashujaa Monument sculpture at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi which he carved to mark 50 years of independence in 2015.

    Motondi also has another masterpiece at the English Point Marina in Mombasa.

    For his work, former President Mwai Kibaki honoured him with a Head of State Commendation (HSC) in 2011.

    “In 2006, I represented Kenya at my first international stone sculpture symposium in Huian China. In the following year, I was invited to Shenzhen City in the southern China province of Guangdong for a similar event. 

    “In 2008 I represented Kenya at the Beijing Olympics Fine Art Exhibition and won a gold medal and an Olympic torch for Kenya. The same year I also participated in international sculpture competitions in Dubai, Russia and Turkey,” Motondi stated in a past publication by the Teachers Service Commission. 

    To counter the village’s negative perception about soapstone carving, he started a program to train women and girls and transfer his skills to them. 

    This initiative not only turned around their livelihoods but also debunked the stereotypes that women cannot participate in sculpture curving.

    He has co-authored several art books including the Competency-Based Curriculum series of course books (Visionary Creative Arts) for Grade One to Five.

    In a message to his colleagues, he said; “Fellow teachers, please nurture your learners’ talents in arts because it will take them to the top of the world as it has done to me. Let the children give their own interpretations and expressions of the world in whatever art form they desire. There are immense opportunities in artistic careers nowadays.”

    Sculpture by Gerard Motondi which was unveiled during Kenya at 50 celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi
    Sculpture by Gerard Motondi which was unveiled during Kenya at 50 celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi