A vernacular poem penned by Kenyan writer Alexander Nderitu will double up as a unique one-off piece art piece for auction. The background design on which the poem will appear is the poet’s actual DNA sequence.
‘It’s the ultimate autograph,’ says Nderitu whose English poem, ‘The Nile’ was broadcast by Canadian-based World Poetry Café in July 2018.
The new poem is titled ‘Mathabu ma Carey Francis’ (‘The Mathematics of Carey Francis’) and is written in the Gikũyũ language, a first for the writer who is working on a vernacular collection titled, ‘Mathabu ma Carey Francis, Na Marebeta Mangĩ’ (‘The Mathematics of Carey Francis, and Other Poems’).
The poem is in the form of a message from a young man in gicagi (the village) to his better-educated girlfriend in Nairobi City. It was written in Nyeri County, located at the foot Mt. Kenya (Africa’s second-tallest mountain) which is sacred to the Agikũyũ people.
It mentions Gikũyũ and Mũmbi, the revered founders of the community, some orally-transmitted sayings, and references a traditional rhyme about a child’s encounter with a frog. The 46 cm x 61 cm, oil-on-canvas DNA artwork has a minimum bidding price of Kshs 1,000,000 (USD $10,000) but the text of the poem can be freely downloaded at http://www.AlexanderNderitu.com/mathafu.html.
Bids may be made in private or public. Coffee at a four-star Nyeri hotel with the artist is also an option for the winning bidder.
DNA Art is a fairly new phenomenon but is steadily gaining popularity, especially in interior decoration. Apart from one’s DNA sequence, portraits can also be developed from one’s finger or kiss prints. According to DNA 11, a leading US-based company in this field, ‘DNA Portraits are the world’s most unique and personalized form of art.
The tough part is choosing the style, colour, size and frame from an almost limitless range of possibilities… Your personal DNA picture print will be as unique as you are. No two prints will ever be alike.’
Born in Nyeri County on William Shakespeare’s birthday, Alexander Nderitu a novelist, poet and playwright. In 2001, he published Africa’s first digital novel, When the Whirlwind Passes. Some of his work has since been translated into Kiswahili, Chinese, Swedish, Arabic and Japanese.
In 2014, his narrative poem ‘Someone in Africa Loves You’ represented Kenya on BBC’S Commonwealth Postcards. In 2017, Business Daily newspaper listed him amongst Kenya’s ‘Top 40 Under 40 Men’.