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Origin and meaning of 'Flossin Mauwano' highway graffiti

Flossin Mauwano is a slogan sprayed on almost every major road in Nairobi city

Stephen Mule

If you live in Nairobi or are a frequent traveller to the city you’ve most likely come across the words “Flossin Mauwano” scribed on major highways or road infrastructure.

Many commuters who have seen this strange phenomenon have struggled to understand its meaning and story behind it.

There are theories that it could be signs of gang affiliation, territory marking and even vandalism.

Even before the Nairobi Expressway was opened for public use, the words “Flossin Mauwano” have already been scribbled on one of the pillars.

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In an interview with The Standard, Stephen Mule, who is the self-styled creator of the Flossin Mauwano slogan.

In 1997, I watched my parents get knocked down on the highway (along Langata Road) while escaping an irate crowd of youths following the election violence that erupted that year. The vivid picture of their lifeless bodies has forever been embedded in my head since then,” he said.

Mule explained that after the death of his parents, he was forced to live with his stepmother since his father, a Kenya Defence Forces soldier had many wives.

He ran away from home on several instances but still remained in school thanks to his father’s education policy.

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After school, Mule would work as a roadside hawker and witnessed many accidents.

I thought of how I could help, road signs were present but no one cared about them. As an artist, I thought of how to combat the menace and came up with the slogan. It sounds mysterious but go check, most of the signings are around blackspots. This is something I took upon myself and I never explain it to anyone. I mark the place and move on.

My main aim is to caution drivers to do what is expected of them after they see the slogan. Most drivers once they see that sign, it becomes a puzzle, they may not understand but one might think probably there is a gang around that might attack anytime, but all in all, they become cautious of their surroundings,” he explained.

His artistry has rubbed authorities off the wrong way on several occasions but more often than not they dismiss his art as vandalism and relate it with drug abuse.

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I am not a vandal. I am simply misunderstood. I personally have sat down with the relevant authorities in charge of the highways but they mostly put me off as a young person on drugs. My drug of choice is music,” Mule stated.

He acknowledged that despite his actions being well-meaning, it is possible that the movement has taken a life of its own and some of the markings on the road are not made by him.

Mule is a family man with a wife and one son who came as a surprise when Mercy was still in secondary school.

My mother was totally against the pregnancy and she insisted we get rid of it. My wife refused and we had to get our own means of survival,” he said.

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