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Game of Checkers
Artist Jacob Ezigbo

Checkers Artist Jacob Ezigbo

Jacob Ezigbo, from 1975 – present day, Nairobi, Kenya.

Game of Checkers Mathare slums

Village Philosophers by Jacob Ezigbo.
A Game of Checkers in the Mathare slums.


“My paintings are the only voice which I have and which I sometimes hide behind, as people who live in Mathare don’t really have a voice. What we have is poverty; we lack health care, education and other basic amenities. We are at the bottom of the food chain; this means that many people here still dye of treatable sicknesses such as Malaria, TB and Typhoid as well as preventable sickness such as HIV/Aids. Police brutality, ethnic and political violence and corruption is the norm here. Many officials, who are supposed to keep the peace and protect the people, actually prey on the ignorance and lack of education in the area. There is never a lack of inspiration to paint!”
  • The East African artist has been drawing and painting since early childhood and “cannot recall a time he was not drawing or painting”.

  • Artist Jacob Ezigbo's full name is Jacob Njoroge Wachira, but he adopted the name Ezigbo (ezigbo means “the good one” from the Ibo community of Nigeria) and he now signs all of his artwork ‘ Jacob W. Ezigbo’.

  • Upon completion of elementary and high school, Jacob Ezigbo studied graphic design at The Kenya Polytechnic in Nairobi and in 1998, he made a decision to become a full time artist, so at that time Ezigbo joined the Kuona Trust, wherein his existing world was opened up to many new exciting challenges and unique experiences.

  • A favorite pastime was to create murals in a palette of vivid, bold colors on the walls of the Mathare homes; Mathare is a gigantic slum district in Nairobi where Jacob was born and spent his childhood and despite the poverty of the area, Jacob Ezigbo has many fond memories of his youthful times there; although he has traveled about the globe, his heart remained in Mathare and as a result, Jacob Ezigbo chose to return to live in Mathare, where his presence and teaching can have a positive effect on its inhabitants.
  • Artist Jacob Ezigbo's inspiration comes from his daily encounters with people and their life experiences; he sees the way people interact in relationships with one another and love, romance, politics, friendship and religion have become prevalent themes within his artistic expression and themes, which he depicts in oil on canvas mostly, though mixed media is also used.

  • Neighbor’s artist style is a blend of Abstract and Impressionism or as he paints he sometimes changes his representation to a combination of Abstract and Figurative.

  • In his painting, ‘Village Philosophers’, game of checkers artist Jacob Ezigbo's inherent theme is a game of checkers being played in the Mathare slums by a group of men, who are unemployed laborers.

  • The checkers game is a natural scene for the artist as draughts or checkers is a very popular activity in Nairobi.

  • The game of checkers around the checkerboard may even involve the exchange of money at times and the successful checkers winner or champion is called the “Fundi”, which translates to ‘skilled worker’.

  • “This is just an analogy to life, and if they can only use their knowledge, they can make their life better.”

  • Artist Jacob Ezigbo's checkers theme shows the viewer that the inherent skills within the challenging play at the checkerboard has the potential to help individuals develop their abilities in such a way that they may also improve their lot in life’s difficult situations.

  • The genre realism hidden within the Abstract Impressionistic style of artist Ezigbo is full of quiet symbolism and meaning.

  • In 2002, the Ruth Hunt Wood Foundation granted the “Best Artist Award” in Kenya to Jacob Ezigbo, and later in 2006, he was able to pursue an opportunity to study art for a semester and instruct at the University of Kentucky and Somerset Community College; during that time, he grew as an artist in his own right through a unique chance to interact with the faculty of both institutions as well as with other artists of the area.

  • Artist Ezigbo was also provided with the opportunity to host a solo exhibition of his artwork at the John Tuska Gallery in Lexington, Kentucky before returning home to Kenya.

  • Between 2002 and 2007, checkers artist Jacob Ezigbo has participated in numerous group shows as well as several solo exhibitions in Kenya, Britain and the U.S.

  • One of his greatest achievements that has arisen from his own personal experience of the profound effect that art has on society, especially in the development of self esteem and skills of young children, is Ezigbo’s foundation of Watoto Wa Kwetu or ‘Children of the Neighborhood’ in 2004, where he offered free art workshops to local children from his home in Mathare.

  • Watoto Wa Kwetu eventually became an official Trust in 2006, which continues to grow today, providing free artist workshops to hundreds of children with instruction in painting, photography, film, music, drama, and poetry as well as an opportunity to participate in other activities such as checkers that may also have a profound effect on these young minds and their ambitions to a better life in the future.








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DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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