It’s really a wonder how a kid born in a low-income family in Egba in Lagos, Nigeria, has now already become a celebrated artist at the tender age of thirteen! He is Waris Olamilekan Kareem, who identifies himself as Waspa on his Instagram page.
Kareem, then an 11-year-old, came under the spotlight when he sketched, in just two hours, an amazing portrait of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who was visiting Nigeria as an invitee to a local cultural performance.
This god-gifted boy from the slums creates incredibly realistic portraits with a pencil that can easily be mistaken for black and white photographs. His talent was noticed when he was only six years old. Even at that time, he was drawing his favorite cartoon characters and bartering them for food.
When Kareem shifted to another city, some teachers from a vocational school helped him hone his artistic skills. So diligent and punctual was he in attending classes that he soon came to be known as an ‘early bird artist’, reaching the school before anyone else!
Kareem’s favorite subjects for sketching are connected with everyday life. Some of his works have titles, such as ‘Daily Bread’, ‘The Weekly Fish’, ‘The Monthly Chicken’, ‘The Yearly Rice’, and others. Says he on the website, www.ta.org.tw, “I always hope that not only can my artistic attainments be as powerful as the Renaissance Italian legend, Michelangelo, but also to draw real-life in Africa, so that the world can help Africa.”
It’s not surprising that Kareem’s talents have been recognized, not only in his country but across the world through the medium of the internet. On Instagram alone, he has a fan following of over 156,000 and counting. He’s also a recipient of the ‘22nd Fervent Global Love of Lives Award 2019’ instituted by Chou Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation of Taiwan.
Kareem Waris: Instagram