Arts to End Slavery 2016 has now officially launched! On the 28th of May we had a community event at Mathare, an informal settlement. The weeks leading to the event were busy and even the morning of the event, we had an interview at Ghetto Radio and Korogocho where we were able to talk about human trafficking and A2ES.
The event started at 12pm and lasted until 4pm. We had rented a field for our use and set up tents to draw people in. We had around 20 volunteers walking around Mathare inviting people to attend, handing out pamphlets about human trafficking and talking to people about the issue.
Around one o’clock we walked to a nearby public bathroom that is by a bridge crossing over Mathare River. There we had two amazing graffiti artists, Smoki and Bebeto, ready to paint a mural to raise awareness about human trafficking even when we’re gone. The mural included a definition of human trafficking in Sheng and a depiction of modern day slavery. It looked amazing!
At two o’clock the party started at the field! We had singers and rappers from Mathare performing as well as a duo from Kakuma refugee camp and a Kenyan band that sang beautiful acapella. We also had three amazing artists doing spoken word. In between the performances we had an energetic MC that on top of hyping up the crowd, talked about human trafficking and what to do if someone thought they or someone they knew were being trafficked. We also had a Kenyan painter, Onyis Martin, painting live and this drew many curious eyes to see the process.
The biggest hit, however,was without a doubt the face painting for children. As soon as the first child got pink and blue painted on their cute little cheeks, a line of nearly a hundred children emerged in just few minutes. When you added juice and cookies to that mix, the children’s excitements could have not been any higher!
All in all the day went great and all expectations were met. At 4pm you could see happy but tired children wander back to their homes with big smiles and smudged face paints on their faces. Following the Mathare residents example, the whole A2ES team headed home tired but above all happy for how well everything had gone. Our expectations were to reach at least 500 people and this estimations was met. All in all, a great success and we can’t wait to move to the next steps of A2ES!
The project is now moving forwards like an express train and we are really excited to see the different aspects of the project progressing so fast. Our call for artists ended mid- March and we got many talented artists sending their profiles and samples to us. We now have 28 amazing artists selected to conjure art pieces for our this years exhibition.
On Thursday 31st of March we had a Masters Class for our new artists at DustDepo. 23 of them attended and we had a great day with them. We started the day at 9am by having some introductions about HAART, PAWA254 and also of the participants. After this we had a HAART staff member introducing the artist with human trafficking. The introduction of the subject went great and the artists had many good questions and observations about the issue. The discussions could have continued for long with many insightful notions about human trafficking from the artists, but in some point we had to break for tea. After the break Patrick Mukabi, a well-known Kenyan artist who is working with us on this project, took over of the workshop. He went through different ways and techniques to work on this project and had some excellent exercises for the participants. There were different types of exercises from painting your partners colors to making self-portraits using different types of surfaces and materials. We ended the day at 3pm by having some tea, mandazis and samosas. All in all the day was a great success and we were super exited to meet the artists and see how exited they also seemed about participating in this project!
After the workshop we continued our way through afternoon traffick to a gallery called ShiftEye in Nairobi. We went there to discuss about the possibility of using their space for the launch of our exhibition on 30th of July and also keeping the exhibition there for the following two weeks. We left the place amazed not just because of the great space they had, but also because they agreed to partner with us for the project. So in just one day we got to meet most of our amazing artists and also got a space for our launch and for the exhibition. Pretty good day I would say!
The next step of the project is now to wait for the artists to turn in their concepts. After this they will be given the needed materials and the magic of art can finally start happening! We are also planning to have a community event on March in one of the slums in Nairobi. The idea is to raise awareness about human trafficking also there, seeing that low-income settlements are places where people are in desperate need of finding an income and thus are easily lured by traffickers.
We will write more on what is going on as our express train continues to speed forwards. Stay tuned!
By Katariina Ainamo
Arts to End Slavery is here once again! Our last project in 2015 was a big success and we are still overwhelmed with the reception that we got. In our three month exhibition last year, hundreds of people got to see the amazing art pieces that our local artists created around the theme of human trafficking. The exhibitions were held in four different galleries in the city of Nairobi and the reception was great. On top of that, we were also invited by IGAD to take the art to an international conference in Djibouti.
This year our theme will focus on the experiences of human trafficking. The exhibition will be held in two different locations in Nairobi and both exhibitions will be held for two weeks. The launch of the exhibition will be on the 30th of July. This day is also the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons which makes it a perfect day to launch our exhibition to the public in Nairobi.
In addition to the exhibitions in Nairobi, we are also planning to take the art to Kisumu and Mombasa. This extension of the exhibition will spread the awareness to both coastal and inland areas. We have also plans to have smaller art events in the grassroots level. The idea is to take the art of local artists to informal settlements to raise awareness among people living there. This is very important since these are a areas where human trafficking is widespread.
The effects of art in fighting against human trafficking are various. It is a way to share information about different aspect of human trafficking, to reach people that other routes of information won’t otherwise reach, to empower the people being human trafficked now or before, it makes people think, have discussions and help them to question things taken granted before.
As in our last year’s exhibition, this year we will have art pieces from local artists including painters, photographers, musicians and poets. This year we also hope to have video installations. In our 2016 exhibition we will work in partnership with PAWA254 which is an organization that works through using art to create social change. We are eager to see what great things we get to do together with them! The planning of the project is now at its beginning stage and we are excited to start taking this projects further again. At the moment we are in the process of recruiting artists for the project and we will start having meeting with them soon. The search for possible venues is also one of our next steps towards creating a great exhibition.
We will update you all as the process moves forwards!
After we had the final event on July 30th on the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, Arts to End Slavery is now over, at least for now. The response for the project has been absolutely overwhelming and we are beyond grateful.
In total we worked with more than 30 artists who produced more than 50 pieces of art for our art project that lasted 3 months reaching many hundreds of people all over Nairobi. We had in total 4 weeks of exhibitions and in total 10 events. For those that don’t remember, here is a look at all the events for Arts to End Slavery:
- 1st May, launch of Arts to End Slavery at Sarakasi Dome. It was an amazing event with art, music, entertainment and refreshments. About 400 people turned up for the event.
- 13th, 14th and 15th May, HAART organized workshops on human trafficking using the art exhibition at the GoDown Art Centre.
- 18th May, HAART organized an academic panel discussion discussing human trafficking at the British Institute in Eastern Africa.
- 25th May, HAART partnered with the Kobo Trust to hold an art event with lots of entertainment, drinks and food.
- 15th June, HAART took Arts to End Slavery exhibition to the Technical University of Kenya and had a workshop with students.
- 26th June, HAART hosted its first national human trafficking conference at PrideInn in Westlands.
- 3rd July, HAART took Arts to End Slavery exhibition to the Technical University of Kenya and had a workshop with students.
- 30th July, HAART partnered with UNODC and PAWA to use Arts to End Slavery to commemorate the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. At the event we screened a few films and had a panel discussion.
We are so grateful for everyone who has supported the project by coming for exhibitions and events. It has been an amazing turnout.
We are also thankful for the donors for this project which are Misereor, GIZ, the Civil Peace Service, German Cooperation and the Austrian Embassy.
We could not have done this project without our visual artists and the performance artists who volunteered for the project by creating beautiful art pieces and performing music, dance, poetry and much more at the events. To work with such an array of talent was truly remarkable.
The response from our partners has been quite overwhelming and we could not have done it without them: The Kobo Trust, Sarakasi Trust, the British Institute in Eastern Africa, the GoDown Art Centre, the Technical University of Kenya, the Technical University of Kenya, PAWA254, UNODC, Art2Be, Pix Studios and Project Studio Creations helped us with different events. We would also like to thank IOM, the Cradle, the Counter Trafficking Advisory Committee, Trace Kenya and IGAD for participating in panel discussions.
Developing, planning and executing all of these events and exhibitions takes a lot of man power and we have been absolutely blessed with some amazing volunteers. Firstly, I would mention the youths from Young@HAART organized by Winnie Mutevu who have been heroes in this process, they carried the art, sat in during the exhibitions and events and then took down the art and moved it to the next place. I will also mention some of the key volunteers who made this project happen, Grace Mwende, Rehema Baya, Mercy Nguyo and Sophie Otiende.
Thank you everyone for making Arts to End Slavery a reality!
By Jakob Christensen
The Arts to End Slavery Conference was the culmination of the A2ES project. The purpose of the conference was to bring together stakeholders dealing with human trafficking in Kenya in one setting to discuss human trafficking in Kenya. We wanted to hold the conference after the month long art exhibitions around the Nairobi. The conference targeted a hundred people from the civil society, government, media and even religious leaders.
We held the conference on the 26th of June at Pride Inn Hotel in Westlands. The conference was to start at 10 am in the morning and by eight o’clock the participants had already started arriving at the venue. We had invited more than one hundred people and most of them had confirmed to attend for either a session or the whole day. The conference was divided into two sections, the first part was to deal with human trafficking and the second part was to handle how we can use art for social change.
The guest of honor was the Austrian ambassador, Dr. Harald Gunther. The Austrian embassy was one of the main donors for the Arts to end Slavery project. The other donors were Miseror and GIZ and both were also sending representatives to attend the conference. Most of the participants arrived by 10 am and the conference was started promptly with the opening address by the ambassador. His address covered the importance of highlighting the issue of human trafficking and the fact that it was not only a Kenyan problem but a global issue that required combined efforts from different players to completely eradicate.
The presentations on human trafficking were done by HAART founder and director Radoslaw Malinowski, HAART Therapist Khayundi Bwali, The CRADLE Children Foundation Director and Chairperson of the Counter Trafficking Advisory Committee Juliet Nyambura Gachanja, UNODC’s National Project Coordinator Noela Barasa, IOM’s Programme Assistant Mariana Kipsy and HAART’s Programme Manager Jakob Christensen presented a thesis that was done by Anni Alexander. All these presentations were followed by a question and answer session where the participants got the opportunity to interact with the presenters. The second part of the conference focusing on art had the following presenters: Wambui Kamiru from Kuona Trust, Xavier Verhoest from Art2Be and we also had artists from the A2ES project talk about their experience in working for the project. Robert Dinda, James Wamalwa and Mercy Nguyo were the three artists that presented their work. Robert Dinda in turn also received an award for being the best artist as chosen by our victims. The other award was given to Mustafa Ibrahim who was recognized for being a champion for fighting modern slavery. He was extremely helpful in the repatriation of 31 victims from Libya last year that was done by HAAART, IOM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The attendance was commendable. We had 85 people who were not from HAART, this included civil society, media and religious leaders. In total, we had more than a hundred participants when you include HAART staff and volunteers who tirelessly gave their efforts to ensure that everything went as planned. The feedback from the participants was that the conference was both interesting and informative. This being the first time that HAART has done such an event, we were not only happy with the results but also the feedback that we got. We look forward to holding such events in future.
The long anticipated day was finally with us. The closer we got to May 1st, the more we felt unprepared. This was mainly nerves because as a team, this was the first major event that we were hosting. Arts 2 End Slavery was a dream that we never thought we could fully implement and with the passage of time, it grew bigger than we anticipated. I guess, that is the best thing about sharing a dream that it stops being about you and it becomes about us. Arts 2 End Slavery was about everyone that contributed. It is about the artists that agreed to give out pieces of art before we could even buy them materials. It is about volunteers who worked tirelessly even when we could not afford to pay them. The launch was the culmination of the effort that was put by all these people and it was beautiful to see it all come together.
Sarakasi Dome was the place to be and the guests started arriving as early as five o’clock. Our event on Facebook had more than 600 people signing up for the event. For us, that was a good sign and even if half that number showed up, we would be grateful. The artists did a good job and the 47 pieces of art displayed in the room was a clear sign of their commitment to the fight against human trafficking. Grace, the project coordinator had been working since morning with Young@HAART volunteers to make sure that everything was in place. The turnout by the end of the night was around 400 people and we believe that this was a success. It was amazing to see the support we got from other NGOs who have worked with us, people from the art world, the media and concerned citizens who wanted to know what this night was all about.
One of the things that stood out during the night was the performances. Ghemma, a musical group from Coast performed a song on human trafficking that was quite entertaining but had a very strong message. We also had Sheddy The Poet and Coreen who did very moving poetry pieces. Although, we faced some issues with the lights going on and off, this did not kill the mood of the people who were patient to watch every performance and learn more about human trafficking.
The feedback was very positive. People were not only impressed by the art and the performances but also the message. One of the goals of this project was to make people see that modern slavery is an issue that needs to be addressed and by the end of the night most people agreed with us. The launch is the beginning of two months of Art to End Slavery and we hope that by the time the curtain closes, we would have reached more people with this important message.
By Sophie Otiende