Most adults do not know what to do with their lives, let alone children. But nine-year-old Sheillah Charles is not most people. This young artist is fully aware of what she wants to pursue and already excels at it. “I don’t actually know why I draw. It’s just God given; it’s something in me. I will be doing this forever.”
Sheillah, currently in lower primary, has earned nationwide praise for her realistic and well-executed portraits. Her subjects have included Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and, according to a UReport interview with her mother, Vivian Adhiambo, other prominent Kenyans who include Nairobi governor Mike Sonko, comedian Daniel Ndambuki, aka Churchill, and TV journalist Lofty Matambo.
Meet 9 year old Kenyan fine artist Sheilah Sheldone Charles. That's her drawing-a portrait of President Uhuru Kenyatta. She's live on #JeffAndJalasOnHot96 @KoinangeJeff @JalangoMwenyewe @UKenyatta pic.twitter.com/axj2Mt2siO
— The African Voice (@teddyeugene) July 19, 2018
Her mother went on to elaborate that Sheillah started drawing when she was only four years old and her talent did not go unnoticed. “Her teachers once called me to school, saying my daughter had something special in her. I did not believe them. They proceeded to show me her drawings and I was impressed. A job transfer forced me to look for another school to nurture her talent but most of the schools I came across were too costly.”
Sheillah has flourished nonetheless. Speaking to BBC, Sheillah talked about her preferred subject matter: “My favourite drawing is a lion. Most tourists come to Kenya to see lions.” The blooming feminist added, “I draw women because they suffer a lot. I draw them because they are the most important people in our family”.
But her main inspiration is closer to home. “I think about my family, how it is, what I would like to change about my family. That’s why I draw.”
Sheillah even teaches other children to draw and paint. “If you have a talent, don’t just say ‘it’s mine alone, I should not teach others’. You should share your talent with others out there.”