Edward Njenga

Edward Njenga (b. 1922?) is a prominent Kenyan sculptor. He is known for his social realism, inspired by everyday life in Nairobi, especially that of the poor, and by Kenya’s past. He works in stone, wood and, mostly, clay. Njenga started as a potter, taught by his mother, and later studied sculpture at the Bournville School of Art in Britain and the University of Hannover in West Germany. In 2014, in a major retrospective, over 200 of his sculptures were displayed at the Nairobi Museum.

Njenga has had many connections with Quakers. During the Mau Mau rebellion Friends secured his release from the British detention camp in which he was imprisoned. (Though not a member of Mau Mau, he was imprisoned for two years in a camp). Quakers then hired him to work at the Friends Centre in Nairobi. With the encouragement of the Friends at the Centre, he began sculpting. The Friends Service Council gave him a scholarship to Woodbrooke, a Quaker retreat and study center in Britain, where he earned a degree in social work. He returned to the Friends Centre and was a social worker there for some years. A Presbyterian, he is an elder of St. Andrews (PCEA) Church.

Edward Njenga offers very moving, very clear pictures of the Kenyan people. “I have a vision,” he says, “and then I just chip away from the clay or wood the parts I don’t need.” Above is Njenga with his “Langata Mau Mau Detention Camp”.

Gary Sandman

January 2021

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