No one title is truly definitive about Eldoret. At this very moment, we’re not sure whether that official Eldoret City status is forthcoming, or we’ll have to be content with the town title. On the other hand, Eldoret is still struggling to identify with the world-beaters, the track conquerors, and true athletics champions.
Initially, Eldoret identified itself as the home of champions, a title that has since been relinquished to Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, whereas Nandi County claimed the source of champions title. So, where does that leave Sisibo?
If the tagline on Uasin Gishu County Government’s logo is anything to go by, Eldoret is “The Champions.” But, if that isn’t convincing enough, then the glorious bronze monument erected at the junction of Kaptagat and Nairobi road with a big wrap-around sign that reads out “Welcome to The City of Champions” is the most definitive statement yet.
The champions monument, which was commissioned by Mediheal Group of Hospitals and unveiled in early 2019, honors the retired, elite, and upcoming athletes in the country. The bronze marvel depicts a set of two male and female athletes attached to “all corners” of the world, one (male figure) holding the Olympic torch while the other characters have their hands raised as a sign of victory. Furthermore, at the top of the world structure is a male-figure athlete draped in the Kenyan flag.
The thought process and execution of the champions monument is simply brilliant! We tracked down the guy behind this amazing piece of art to firstly put a name and face to the creation and get insights on his thought process and workflow.
Ladies and gentlemen…
Meet Cleophas Mandela; The Artist Behind Eldoret City of Champions Monument
Karimi: Tell us a bit about yourself and how this gig came about.
Cleophas: I am a 30yr old freelance sculptor artist, born and raised in Nairobi. I was commissioned by the Honorable MP Dr. Mishra of Kesses constituency in Uasin Gishu to do the monument in honor of both past and present athletes and to show Kenya’s world dominance in athletism.
Karimi: What was your inspiration for the monument.
Cleophas: I got inspiration from both past and present athletes; like the man holding the flag, I got the inspiration from how the athletes fly the Kenyan flag above their shoulders when celebrating after winning a race. The athletes on the different parts of the globe go to show that we’ve conquered the whole world.
Karimi: Did you draw your inspiration from any known Athletes?
Cleophas: I was keeping it vague not to capture any specific athlete. Just to keep it neutral and make every athlete feel like they are a part of the monument. So no one can categorically say that they represent a particular athlete. However, the facial features were predominantly depicted from the Kalenjin community since they are the majority in the athletics field.
Karimi: Briefly take us through your workflow
Cleophas: The modeling of the sculptures took six months. I modeled each sculpture one at a time, and then it took me another three months to do the cast using cold cast method (with bronze finish), after which it took me another two months to hoist it on the metal world globe and to install on-site. It was a whole year’s work!
Karimi: Amazing! So, how are you feeling now that it was finally unveiled and will remain in the history of Eldoret?
Cleophas: I’m greatly humbled to be part of the beautification of Eldoret. The City of Champions monument does not only depict athlete prowess the region has to offer, but also to inspire and motivate upcoming athletes in the region and the country as a whole. I’m grateful for Mediheal Group, who commissioned me to do the work. I am truly humbled.
Here are some of the other work done by Cleophas