Government in trouble days after Uhuru unveiled Jomo Kenyatta’s Statue in Cuba

Trouble over Mzee Kenyatta's statue in Cuba

An award-winning sculptor has threatened to sue the Government for violation of his Intellectual Property rights.

In a report by the Nation, Oshottoe Ondula accuses the Government of approving the modification of the bust without consulting him.

According to Mr. Ondula, he registered the piece as intellectual property on July 25, 2010, under reference ILP/SLP/221147/NYC, by Cofylaw and Associates LLC in New York.

The popular sculptor was among 15 artists who submitted their works to the Kenyan Government in 2009 after Cuba requested to be provided with a statue of Mzee Kenyatta, to be displayed at Havana’s African Heroes Park.

After his design got an approval, Mr. Ondula was contracted by the National Museum of Kenya (NMK) for Sh3.5million. He was instructed to use fiberglass and cast method, and take six months for the project.

He completed the project and handed over the bust to NMK.

“In 2011, I was called to the then Culture and Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama’s office to witness the handing over of the bust to the Cuban ambassador. Also present was the then Director of Sites and Monuments Dr. Hassan Wario,” he was quoted by the Nation.

Trouble started when Cuba indicated that the material used to make the statue could not stand the heat in Cuba.

Ondula says that this new developments made on the bust saw adjustments mad on the sculptor which he came to know during the unveiling by President Kenyatta in Cuba.

Though the officials say they contracted another artist to make a brand new sculpture, Mr. Ondula’s lawyer disclosed to him that the bust was a replica of his masterpiece.

“They made a mold, minus the hand of Jomo Kenyatta holding a fly whisk, and copied it. My lawyer asked me if I gave them permission but I gave no such thing. They just infringed on my intellectual rights,” he said.

Ondula wrote a complaint letter to Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o which he copied to State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita, Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua, Solicitor-General Kennedy Ogeto, Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma Sports, Culture and Arts CS Rashid Achesa.

In response, Mr. Nyong’o , who was also in Cuba during the unveiling said:“Your work commissioned by the National Museums is indeed in Cuba. It stands in front of the Kenyan Embassy. But it was not the one unveiled".

However, Ondula insists that he will take legal action noting: “They cannot copy, cast or alter anything on that bust without written approval from the creator.

“The copyright is encrypted on the sculpture as universally practiced and its year of creation, in this case, 2008. National Museum of Kenya bought the sculpture from me and not my intellectual property rights,” Ondula said.

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