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Daniel Muraba: Artist at Crack of Dawn, Accountant by Day
Daniel Muraba: Artist at Crack of Dawn, Accountant by Day
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Daniel Muraba: Artist at Crack of Dawn, Accountant by Day

June 24, 2022

In his early childhood, while other kids were playing outside, Daniel Muraba discovered a love that kept him indoors - drawing. He practised this one activity that has given his heart little kicks of joy over the years and in 2016, made up his mind to start doing it professionally.

A BCOM graduate gainfully employed as an accountant, Daniel still draws part-time. Among other privately collected commissions, he has done a portrait for Equity bank’s Dr. James Mwangi. He talks to Qazini’s Lesalon Kasaine about his passion and how he juggles his two jobs. 

Who is Daniel Muraba?

Muraba is a spiritual artist who captures and addresses social and political topics through fine art portraiture in the crypto-realist style. He is also an accountant working with Halliday Finch Limited.

How do you manage to strike a balance between your two jobs?

I’ve always believed that if I put my mind to anything, I can accomplish it. When I am not performing my official duties, I dedicate my time to growing my art portfolio. I wake up every morning at 5am. to do art, and then, from 9am. to 5pm, I do my accounting work - with a lot of prayers and self-motivation in-between.

Do you ever feel like quitting one of the jobs to fully concentrate on the other?

At the moment, no. My art gets inspired by my other life pursuits such as accounting and volunteering for various projects that are in line with my passion.

Which artist has influenced your work and why?

I have been influenced by a variety of local artists, most notably Patrick Kinuthia, Kennedy Kinuthia, and Jimmy Curtis IV. Internationally I have drawn influence from Arinze Stanley. I am fascinated by the simplicity with which these artists execute complex art styles to relay social-political messages. In short, I like art that’s deep.

Does drawing pay?

Yes, though like any business, there are good days and bad days. Anyway, while working on a piece, I steer clear of thoughts about money, unless of course, I am drawing money (I have done a drawing of the Kenyan currencies). I draw because it is my passion. But once I’m finished, someone will always be willing to pay for it.

What notable works have you sold so far?

I’ve done portraits for Dr. James Mwangi of Equity Bank and Eng. Joshua Ichang’i—an engineer at Athi Water. Most of my artworks are sold via art galleries—it is a bit difficult to trace who the private collectors are.

Say I’m reading this interview and I decide I want you to do my portrait or that of a loved one. How can I reach you?

I can be reached on Instagram; Muraba_art and Facebook; Muraba Art. My Mobile number is 0707824644.

Your work has evolved over time.

I am glad that is noticeable. I started my journey in the art universe by doing basic sketches and doodles that evolved into cartoon drawings, and then into commissioned portraits. 

I, however, felt a deeper urge to not only draw but also draw with a purpose. To draw narratives, to draw hope, to draw awareness and critique what I felt was morally wrong in the society and in the political arena. 

Since then, I have actively put cryptic messages in my art using my preferred medium of graphite and paper. I believe that art is a collaboration between God and man. It is deeply spiritual, comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comforted.

Was commerce also a passion because you ended up studying it at Uni?

Yes, it was, although it came second to art. I wanted to do art but my financial situation would not allow it.

What would you say to a fully employed individual who has another passion they are exercising on the side?

You don’t have to be one thing in life. You can be everything you want to be. Don’t box yourself in, go forth and conquer the world with all that you hold dear in your heart, with might, confidence, and zeal.

And what advice would you give to unemployed youths?

Use your talent and skills to create income, wealth, and jobs for others. It will be challenging but nothing good comes easy. Sitting around and waiting for the government to rescue you is like ploughing the sands. 

Find something to do and keep moving. If the government makes good on its promises for youths and shows up for you, let it find you on the grind.

Our society generally considers drawing a hobby, not a real job. Your thoughts?

Art, once well packaged and marketed can morph from being just a hobby into a well-paying job. I personally think that society has that view because many artists haven’t been groomed or mentored well enough to turn their passions into fulfilling professions.

Any favourite work you did and got attached to?

Yes. I named it “Promises.” It’s my depiction of the disappointment that Kenyan youth are facing as a result of the fake promises leaders make. It portrays a young man with a frown of dissatisfaction written all over his face. 

There are locks on his head to represent the many locks that tie down the youth, and a leather jacket representing the cloak of illegalities which they resort to for lack of better options after the empty promises. 

My series titled “Notes From the Past” is something else to look forward to, more details will come after its completion.

If you could choose to either time travel to the past or the future, what would you choose and why?

I’d go to the past to encourage that version of me to keep believing in my dreams regardless of what life surprises me with. With that, I’ll have fixed the future without having to go there.

Qazini is an online media platform that uses the power of stories to not only uplift and inspire but also challenge existing narratives and champion the spectrum of voices and perspectives from the African continent. Visit Qazini here.

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