Manifesto One City Series: Ian Kamau Listening Party/Birthday

Ian Kamau Listening Party/Birthday
Ian Kamau Listening Party/Birthday

September 9 2009 @ Anitafrika Dub Theatre – FREE


“Ian (given name) Gaelic _ meaning: God’s Gift _ Origin: Ireland/Scotland
Kamau (given name) Kikuyu _ meaning: Quiet Warrior _ Origin: Kenya, East Africa

My name is Ian Kamau, or simply Kamau, I consider myself an artist. I believe that my ability to create and communicate is closely connected to my purpose in life although I am unsure of exactly how.

Primarily I am a writer and a graphic/visual artist. I perform much of what I write so some have defined me as a performer, a poet or a hip-hop artist. I don’t necessarily define myself in this way but it’s not for me to say. In short, I make music and am interested in expression and communication through many forms of art.

After five years of studying fine arts and graphic design I graduated from University with a specialized honors degree in design but this is by no means the end of my interests or my only creative outlet.

I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada by Trinidadian parents who immigrated to North America in 1970. My parents are documentary filmmakers, my mother a producer, my father a writer and director from a family of teachers so I grew up around information, education, ideas and art.

I believe that art is the expression of an idea, emotion or point of view by creative means. The greatest artists in my estimation are those who have the ability to create compelling and inspiring work while communicating strong ideas, fresh perspectives and powerful messages to everyday people. The most influential artists are in fact everyday people themselves with the ability to communicate their thoughts, frustrations and ideas in a direct, creative and unassuming way.

My interest in all forms of art in many ways determines how I communicate and the direction of my life. I think that art in general and music specifically is meant to be an instigation of a larger conversation and not an absolute statement. Music of all the arts is the greatest of communicators because most people listen to music in some form. While some may never go to an art gallery or attend the theatre the majority of us listen to music. Hip-Hop specifically speaks directly to people and is an amazing tool for people to speak to each other.

The music that I create has in one way or another taken me all over the world, it has opened doors to places I never thought I would have gone and has put me in the position to have conversations with a diverse range of individuals, conversations that have opened my mind and changed my opinions. I have performed my work in The UK, Cuba, America, Kenya, The Netherlands, Ghana and France and extensively all over my home country of Canada. I have also had the pleasure of meeting, performing and recording with many other artists from around the world, which has exposed me to a international arts community.

My belief in community and community building is strong. Outside of my creative life my primary work has been in the community, specifically with arts-based youth projects. From painting murals in lower income neighbourhoods in Toronto, to volunteering with youth hip hop projects in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Nairobi to working with the Royal Conservatory of Music in their community school programs. That side of my life has always run parallel to my artistic life and reminds me of the importance of expression, inspiration and opportunity.

My desire at this point in my life is to begin to put my thoughts, experiences and expressions out into the world creatively or otherwise so that I may enter into a larger conversation with people in different parts of the world.


-Ian Kamau”

Part of Manifesto’s One City Series, this will be a celebration of one of our city’s prolific poet/MC/organizer.  Utilizing spoken word as a means of expressing his inner thoughts and re-telling stories through his unique style, this will be a celebration of a man who truly understands his calling of inspiring people with language and words.

For more info on the Manifesto One City Series:


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