Monday, 19 June 2017

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Creative Encounters #2

Creative Encounters #2

Creative Encounters #2

Creative Encounters #2

Roy RoyBoy
Fadhilee
Creative Encounters #2 just happened on Friday 16th at The Kobo Trust, Kobo is known for promoting mainly visual art from East Africa, but now committed in hosting artists from different art's expressions to enlarge perspectives and share ideas.
It was a lovely evening with awesome artists from Kenya and the rest of the world.
Friend Hamid Barole Abdu was our special guest all the way from Eritrea, Italy, Kampala. Hamid is a poet and writer currently based in Kampala.
It was his first time at Creative Encounters for songwriter and singer Tetu Shani who made the audience sing and dance overwhelmed by his vibes and energy.
Part of our team of artists were musician Fadhilee Itulya, spoken word poet Roy Royboy, visual artist and poet Naitiemu Nyanjom, visual artist based at Kobo Trust Lemek Tompoika, the duo M-Tafsiri formed by Reagan Oduor and Amalie Asmild, contemporary dancer Moses Steel  and we had The African Band.

As our host, The Kobo Trust, will be soon inaugurating (July 2017) the  exhibition  Arts to end Slavery, we thought of starting a conversation with the theme of the exhibition so all artists addressed issues like identity, forced migration, human trafficking, sexual exploitation.
We all believe that art has the unique power to address social issues making impact and creating a platform for social transformation.

Creative Encounters aims not just to provide nice and original performances for the audience but mostly to build a platform for different artists to meet and share their work. It is immensely important and necessary for the Kenyan socio cultural context that different art's expression link to each other to inspire each other and set new ideas and new forms of collaborations.

Stay tuned for Creative Encounters #3 on July.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

I am not a failed dream

My conversation with spoken word artist and social activist Valentine Onyeka Ogunaka, aka Brainbox, on Pambazuka.
Valentine's poetry is a touching portrait of his life as an artist and of his society which he is committed to change through the powerful tool of imagination.

To follow his work
Facebook

Watch his Documentary
I'm not a failed dream


Support him by following these guidelines:

- Gather with friends and family watch the documentary, take a picture of you watching it
- Post the picture on Facebook using the hashtag #iamnotafaileddream
- Write a message on a cardboard saying how did the documentary spoke to you and post it using the same hashtag.

Valentine Onyeka Ogunaka visits schools and share his art with children, youth, parents and teachers empowering communities.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Igniting Power of Imagination. Education through the Arts

By envisioning the school of the future, I sense that the traditional educational system might not be enough to prepare the youth to handle the future, if it doesn’t contemplate the Arts as an integrated part of the school curriculum. The reason is simple: the more the world progresses, diversified, well technologically connected and fast, the more education needs to respond to the need of creating community and re-define identities. A quality we all have and that needs to be revalued is imagination. It was Italian writer Italo Calvino that said ‘Imagination is like communicating with the soul of the world’.
Why imagination? Being a writer and an avid reader as well as being raised in a single-parent environment where I didn’t have many friends, where I was the only child, imagination has been my daily companion. It is deeply rooted within ourselves and it’s not difficult to consider it as the engine of our being human. It has its foundation in two words: What if.  It was William Shakespeare, in his comedy ‘As You Like It’, that underlined the importance of the word IF through the tirelessly inquisitive fool Touchstone, who keeps on questioning ‘what if?’. It is Touchstone himself who foresees what poet Adrienne Rich defined as a ‘revolutionary question, the virtue to uphold’.IF is important, not because of how things are, but how they could be. The free exercise of imagination shapes the world in which we live, it creates many possibilities and realities.
The ‘spiritus phantasticus’, as Giordano Bruno defined it, that spurs from a creative mind, helps the exploration of new territories of the human sensibility and also allows to one to leave their comfort zone, enabling them to explore different ways of self-expression.
I have been using art as a tool for social change, working with marginalized communities in different countries and it has always succeeded to help create community, to break boundaries, even linguistic ones, to overcome stressful and difficult times, to find a language that could be inclusive and representative to all. Art in education plays a significant role, as it helps students to empower themselves. They can not only enter different cultures and mindsets, but also learn to identify themselves. Art can be a ‘window and a mirror’, to quote Rudine Sims Bishop, as it allows young people to shape the world that they inhabit; any also others so that everyone is able to identify him/herself, and also to explore new territories.
In some social contexts, being an immigrant or belonging to a marginalized group requires a lot of strength. I’ve been addressing issues like female genital mutilation, diversity, gender equality, and identity, through spoken word, theatre, creative writing and visual art. This connects different communities that wouldn’t have the chance to know each other otherwise. They’ve been able, by expressing their imagination, to envision a future with a more sensitive eye on what a sustainable, inclusive, empathetic society should look like.
When young people confront themselves with the obstacles of the societies they live in, often feeling misrepresented, judged, or marginalized, the Arts come to offer them a safe, non-judgmental space with which they can express their true self. They can freely rely on their imagination and creativity to solve conflicts and misunderstandings. There’s an inner quality about the Arts that brings to light our intimate consciousness and its exploration reminds us that awareness is the first stage from which we can start overcoming stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination.
On a more academic level, art contributes in cognitive activity, reading skills and critical thinking. It improves motivation, teamwork, concentration, and self-confidence. Art connects the youth to the world, and opens them to new ways of seeing the world around them, creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. It encourages young people to find and express their abilities while learning. It is often believed that the Arts is a field exclusively for artists, but that’s not true.  Art is an important tool through which learning becomes a rewarding experience whatever ability one has. The Arts help them to feel a sense of ownership for what they learn and allows them to embrace their personal experiences through sharing stories, ideas, dreams, hopes, and becoming change makers, paving an innovative, multidisciplinary path.
In the 19th century, American writer George Eliot said: ‘It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various point of view’.  She had made a statement not only as a woman creative writer in a male dominant literary scene, but because she herself had a curious mind. Her curiosity led her to learn a multitude of subjects, from science to foreign languages, and acquire a vast base of knowledge. Eliot did this with the eyes of an imaginative mind, which allowed her to create a world that could not have been seen otherwise, in the narrowed minded society she lived in.
Eliot’s idea applies to the concept of how we should envision youth education today: an education based on exploring possibilities and different perspectives, promoting inclusiveness, equal opportunities, diversity and multiplicity.

The article was submitted to the Nuha Foundation Blogging Contest 2016.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Nuha Foundation Blogging Contest

I've participated to the Nuha Foundation's Blogging Contest. My essay is called The Igniting Power of Imagination: Education Through the Arts .




By envisioning the school of the future, I sense that the traditional educational system might not be enough to prepare the youth to handle the future, if it doesn’t contemplate the Arts as an integrated part of the school curriculum. The reason is simple: the more the world progresses, diversified, well technologically connected and fast, the more education needs to respond to the need of creating community and re-define identities. A quality we all have and that needs to be revalued is imagination. It was Italian writer Italo Calvino that said ‘Imagination is like communicating with the soul of the world’.


Why imagination? Being a writer and an avid reader as well as being raised in a single-parent environment where I didn’t have many friends, where I was the only child, imagination has been my daily companion. It is deeply rooted within ourselves and it’s not difficult to consider it as the engine of our being human. It has its foundation in two words: What if.  It was William Shakespeare, in his comedy ‘As You Like It’, that underlined the importance of the word IF through the tirelessly inquisitive fool Touchstone, who keeps on questioning ‘what if?’. It is Touchstone himself who foresees what poet Adrienne Rich defined as a ‘revolutionary question, the virtue to uphold’.IF is important, not because of how things are, but how they could be. The free exercise of imagination shapes the world in which we live, it creates many possibilities and realities. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Anyone can leave a comment below the link's page and also share it on Facebook and Twitter.
There 's a 2000$ prize. in the eventuality I'll be the recipient of it, I will be able to set a permanent free writing workshop for marginalized youth in Nairobi and also help to build sustainable bookshelves in Nairobi Slums.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Writing Workshop in Kibera

Last week I had a presentation of my Writing Workshop with the children of Kibera (Katwekera section).

Kibera view

Kibera is the second largest slum in Africa. With an estimated population of one million people living within 2.5 square kilometres, it is one of the most densely populated areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
Youth in Kibera face particular challenges. Many grow up in deplorable living conditions, lacking basic infrastructure and services including safe water, proper housing and sanitation, health services, garbage collection, law enforcement and access to an education which could lift them out of poverty.
Lacking employment and hope and faced with extreme hardships, many youth are pushed to engage in risky activities such as prostitution, early marriage, and substance abuse; activities which also put them at greater risk for HIV/AIDS.

John Adoli the founder and director of the community centre in Katwekera, has given me the opportunity to come and teach children how to write stories, starting from theirs.  By creating this space he has provided a safe place for kids and youth to gather and spend their time involving them in educational and artistic activities.

Presenting the workshop I decided to use a simple variation of Renée Watson's Visual Poem which made possible for all the children to tell who they are in a more intimate way: so following Watson's example they had fun portraying themselves and telling what they like and who they are.

These are the children holding their works.








Even if I'm volounteering,  and I'm not always in the position to do so, I can see how kids would love to know more about books and writing. They like stories, who doesn't after all! The problem is that sometimes they don't have parents to tell them stories nor books to read. 
After the meeting they felt inspired and some came to me and said they wish to become writers! So I knew my work has been valued.

The idea is to let them write stories and make a small anthology out of their works to present in their community and also to share with other communities in Nairobi's slums to inspire many more youth.

Journal's to be
Today I bought for them excercise books to decorate and personalize (we will do in the manual art workshop on saturday) which will become their daily journal. If they practice keeping the journal, they will improve their writing skills and give space to their imagination.

The children are willing to write and hungry for books, and for this reason we are looking for books for kids from 7 to 16 years old which could be part of  library to organize in Kibera-Katwekera and also to provide them colors and paper to write. 
Ofte their vocabulary is poor due to the lack of books, without books they can't improve their reading and writing skills.

Sending books in Kenya might be expensive, but in countries like UK and USA (Googling is easy to find many options) there are many cargo services that send items for a reasonable price.

Who is willing to send books (writers, publishers, private) I can send in pvt the address. 
Who is willing to sponsor the two workshops you can donate here:




Workshop Children €200
Workshop Youth €200

Each donation will allow each child to have access to reading books, paper, pens, colors.
With this amount the books we will be able to purchase will be the ones available in Kenya.

For international author's books the price is high so we need a different approach:
- If you are an author and you'd like one of your book to reach Kibera-Kenya you can ask your publisher to send a donation copy on your behalf (i will provide the address);
- If you are an indie author let me know if you can give a discount on your books so that I might purchase directly from you  (Amazon has very expensive shipping rates to Kenya).

Once we receive the books, before setting up the community library, we will train kids and educators on how to catalog and keep books in order.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

FGM in Iran ... The Documenatry

Rayehe Mozafarian
Activist, Researcher and Artist Rayehe Mozafarian has directed, edited and produced a short video interviewing women in Sirik city (Province of Hormozgan), about Female Genital Mutilation. The video, which is part of the StopFGMIran campaign,  took four days to shoot and it happened in coincidence with a wedding ceremony: it was intentional to put the two events in the same video, the interviews and the wedding ceremony. While I was interviewing some midwives, I was invited to the wedding and it seemed a perfect combination to emphasize the importance of addressing FGM and the sufference of women who have undergone or will undergo the cut."
Rayehe explains the reason why the faces of the women interviewed are blurry: I didn't get permission so I had to obscure their faces. 
Rayehe is now planning to produce a longer documentary for which she already had permissions from the Government.  A work that will enlighten the presence of FGM in Iran. 



Rayehe has been working extensively in two different related campaigns: StopFGMIran and Stop Early Marriage in Iran.

She is the author of: The Ring which is intended to find and make light on child marriage and its causes (published in 2016), Razor and Tradition (Utopia Publisher, Paris 2013), Tigh o Sonnat (Razor and Tradition) (Takht Jamshid Publisher, Iran 2015). 
More about Rayehe's Work here.

Razor&Tradition

The Ring