When security guard Rebecca Kerubo publicly accused the now resigned Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza of pinching her nose and wielding a gun at her, she got the country talking. She also inspired the Congolese-born artist, Bezalel Mfashingabo to pick up a paintbrush and attempt to capture the saga from beginning to end. At first glance, the 60 by 80 inch painting reveals nothing of the drama.
It is the label beside the abstract work that offers clues to what story the canvas painting holds. Even then, it would take an elaborate explanation from Bezalel to decipher the many lines within the piece. His ability to capture the “Baraza v. Kerubo” saga without faces and actual images reveals the intricate and mysterious nature of abstract art. At the very top is the image of a rungu (club) that symbolizes authority or power in Africa.
According to Bezalel, the rungu represents the authority that was granted to Nancy Baraza upon her appointment as Kenya’s first deputy chief justice. Her hand seems to be wrapped around the rungu but not quite, which according to Bezalel, indicates Baraza’s inability to handle the power bestowed upon her. Below the rungu one notices a pair of eyes, but a closer look reveals them to be symbols representing the female gender. The pair represents the two women and the unfortunate circumstances in which they met.
Right below the symbols, we see a pair of nostrils. From the left side of the painting, Kerubo stretches out her detection gadget to search Baraza’s effects while Baraza’s hand protrudes from the right to pinch Kerubo’s nose. Below the nose, the barrel of a gun emerges, a forefinger wrapped around the gun’s trigger. The painting concludes with a depiction of the scales of justice, an indication of the judicial process that follows the incident. For Bezalel however, the scales depict his desire to see the law establish equity and equality for all.
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By Ann Gitari