Uganda’s Bead King Gateja Doing Historic Nairobi Showcase

  • by Ignatius Liposhe
  • March 26, 2017
Sanaa Gateja in his studio

As the team at TheUgandan wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, we’ll bring you details about locally bred artist and jeweller, Sanaa Gateja’s high profile exhibition.

The Gateja exhibition besides the art of five East African artists who the exhibition’s curator calls ‘pioneers’ have been on display from December 17 up to April 2017 at Nairobi Gallery.

Gateja being the Ugandan inventor of beads made from recycled paper and other waste material. And the curious mindset of his has enabled him to constantly come up with new beads, thereby turning crafts into arts.

He has paintings and wall hangings in contemporary and cultural themes, showcasing his talent as a master craftsman and the “bead king” — he conceived the paper bead from recyclable materials.

Gateja is also a painter. His artwork could be described as mixed-media, experimental abstract art. Sometimes based on natural materials like barkcloth or raffia which gives it an authentic African look. People tend to reflect on his work as something more experimentally and visionary in terms of materials and techniques.

One of Sanaa's works

Gateja, 66, has exhibited internationally, producing aesthetic and functional art including wearable paper jewellery, costumes and handbags.

Last weekend Gateja was awarded the inaugural Bayimba Honours, which celebrates philanthropy in Ugandan arts and culture.

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Currently, his Kwetu Africa Art Centre set up in the late 1980s trains rural people, especially women, in environmentally sustainable art as a means of economic empowerment.

Author:, +256772544870 or Twitter @stephenkmuneza