Elkana Ong'esa was born in November 1944 to the artisan community of Kisii in western Kenya as the first child of a family of six sons and four daughters. His grandfather and both of his parents were recognized traditional crafts persons.
Elkana Ong'esa studied Fine Arts at Makerere University in Uganda, and the University of Nairobi in Kenya, where he completed his postgraduate thesis on stone carving in East Africa. Ong'esa also attended the McGill University in Canada in 1985, where he obtained a M.Ed. in Teaching of Art.
In 1987 he travelled to Arctic Canada and worked with Eskimo green stone carvers. From 1975 to 1989, he served as Senior Lecturer and Head of Creative Arts at Kisii Teachers College in western Kenya. From 2001 to 2003 he was Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. In 2007, he was Artist-in-Residence, lecturing on Arts in Kenya at Hofstra University, New York, and other institutions in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Dallas. In 2009, he was elected first President of the newly formed Pan-African Association of Visual Arts (PAVA). In 2011 he was an Artist-in-Residence at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.
'WILL' Exhibition in Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, Hong Kong
Travelling exhibitions in New York, Dallas, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, USA
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa
Opera House, Cairo, Egypt, sponsored by Kenya Department of Culture & Afro-Arab Cultural Institute
Tokyo, Japan, sponsored by JICA and JETRO
New Zealand during the 1990 Commonwealth Games
Svea Galleriet, Stockholm, Sweden
Montreal & Toronto, Canada, soapstone sculpture exhibition
'Head of State Commendation' (HSC) for exemplary contributions to art, culture and community socio-economic development initiatives
Kenyatta University: Distinguished Services Award
Makerere University: Award for Sculpture
Makerere University: Award for Painting
Major Art Pieces
Dancing Birds, 2.5 x 2.5 x 2m, red granite, for US Embassy, Nairobi, kenya
Bird of Peace Emerging from Stone of Despair, granite, Murumbi Peace Memorial, City Park, Nairobi, kenya
Her Mother, 3 x 3 x 2.5m, bronze, World Sculpture Park, Chang Chun City, Jilin Province, P.R.China
Blessings III, soapstone, Rosenberg Museum, Hofstra University, New York, USA
Dancing Around a Cola Bottle, soapstone, Coca-Cola Olympics Museum, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
In Search of Water, Caltex Oil offices in Irving Texas, USA
Enyamuchera (Bird of Peace), 1.6m. ht. (7-ton) soaptsone, UNESCO, Paris, France