Nairobi News


Meet the man behind Sonko’s lions – VIDEO, PHOTOS

Nairobi sculpturist Mr Oshoto Ondula has for the better part of his life enjoyed the quiet atmosphere in his tiny workshop, mostly bonding with his sculptures.

But all this changed last week when ruthless Kenyans on Twitter decided to take a swing at one of his works.

The infamous lion sculpture that was mounted at the Uhuru Highway – University Way roundabout caused an uproar from KOT who disapproved of the work of art.

Speaking to Nairobi News, Mr Oshoto Ondula – the man behind Mr Sonko’s infamous lions – explained the lion statue that sparked a buzz on social media was an unfinished product.

He claimed he had to attend to an urgent matter outside Nairobi and had to leave the sculpture unfinished.

The new statue on the left was put up on Friday night. PHOTOS | COURTESY

“The statue that was trending for all the wrong reasons was certainly not the real deal yet. At least it helped many realize we are doing much to impove Nairobi City’s landscape. In truth, you just can’t install a monument like that statue overnight. So much work has to be put in to make a statue come to life. Nothing good ever gets done overnight,” he said.

He is the brains behind most sculptures erected in the city under the beautification programme.


His first major job dates back to 1983 when he was commissioned by former President Daniel Moi to sculpture a gift to Queen Elizabeth from United Kingdom.

“That was my first work that I did as an artiste as President Moi commissioned me to do a gift to Queen Elizabeth during her state visit in Kenya. It was a sculpture of an eagle.”


Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he has also been commissioned to make gifts for high level dignitaries including Right Honourable Trudeau, the father of the sitting prime minister of Canada.

“This was made possible by the fact that I had strong links with the Kenya Foreign Affairs ministry and whenever the president was making a state visit to foreign countries I would make sculpture gifts that he would take with him.”

Mr Ondula prides himself at being involved in most of the monuments erected in Nairobi. They include the Nyayo monument in Uhuru Park and the monument in Uhuru Gardens.

Others include the iconic Tom Mboya statue at the junction of Mama Ngina Street and Moi Avenue just outside the National Archives.

Mr Ondula is also hailed for making the “lions” at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Mausoleum and a bust  of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta that was taken to Cuba’s Freedom Corner.

“I am very proud of my work that has enabled me bring some of our history to life,” says Mr Ondula.