Samson Kambalu

Samson Kambalu

Art | Memoir

Samson Kambalu was born in 1975 in Malawi. He lives and works in Oxford where he is an Associate Professor of Fine Art and Director of Research at the Ruskin School of Art and a fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University.

An artist and writer working in a variety of media, including site-specific installation, video, performance and literature, Kambalu’s work is autobiographical and approaches art as an arena for critical thought and sovereign activities. It fuses aspects of the Nyau culture of the Chewa, the anti-reification theories of the Situationist movement and the Protestant tradition of inquiry, criticism and dissent.

Kambalu holds a PhD in Fine Art from UAL’s Chelsea School of Art, looking at contemporary art and economies of the gift. He has won research fellowships with Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution. He has exhibited his work around the world including the biennials in Dakar, Liverpool and Venice. His work Antelope will appear on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth from 2022 to 2024.

The Jive Talker: Or How to Get a British Passport

‘An African memoir unlike any other I have read … Filled with wonder, humour and hope. It is a magnificent achievement.’

Aminatta Forna, Sunday Telegraph

‘The charming and rare story of coming of age as an artist in Malawi.’

Daniel Bergner, author of Sing for your Life

‘Read Kambalu, cry, clap your hands.’

Iain Finlayson, The Times


‘A truly original book.’

Pride Magazine

‘… insights into the rich mythology that underpins his work stream out of his cheekily titled memoir The Jive Talker, or How to Get a British Passport.’

Clare Armitstead, Guardian