Samuel Mulokwa, better known as TUF, was born in Kimilili in western Kenya in 1975. In 1999 he began his studies in graphic arts at the Kenya Polytechnic University and later the Buru Buru Institute of Fine Art, both in Nairobi. At the age of nine, he was already learning how to draw cartoons and caricatures of people, and he created his first full-length comic book while he was in Secondary School. This work was Manywele, a Swahili comic book, which was published by Sasa Sema Publications in 1998. TUF’s second comic book, in English, was Komerera: The Runaway Bride, published by Sasa Sema in 2001. He has also worked on a science fiction comic book, among other things.
TUF has been editorial cartoonist for the Daily People newspaper and also for Taifa Leo, Kenya’s daily Swahili newspaper. He has done storyboards for commercial animations, illustrations for children’s books and a number of other published works. In 2001, TUF won the Cartoonist of the Year Award for Kenya from the Media Institute in Nairobi. His work has appeared in cartoon exhibitions in Nairobi. TUF also has two other passions, writing music and stories. He draws his inspiration from music, but to perfect his art he learned from other artists, in particular, Frezzato, Uderzo, and Disney animations.
Says TUF: “My interest in art is derived from the fact that it’s the best tool I’ve ever come across that can be used to express one’s ideas and emotions about life. It provides a door to escapism and allows you to create forms and beings, and even destroy them, making you (the artist) something like a demi-god.” Tuf has had his work exhibited in Italy, in the exhibition Matite Africane. TUF designed the poster and the cover of the catalogue for the exhibition Africa Comics, which was also held in Italy.