On July 30th, all roads led to Shifteye Gallery for the opening of the 2016 Arts to End Slavery exhibition and the World Day against Trafficking in Persons celebration. One by one the guests came in as from 6pm. The evening had an exciting programme put together by both HAART and PAWA254 who were the conveners of the event.
The opening remarks were given by Sophie Otiende who then introduced Rose Jepkorir, the curator for the exhibition who explained the theme of the exhibition. This year the title for the exhibition was ‘Telling their Stories’ which was victim stories so the art was intended to speak to the audience from the perspective of the victims of trafficking. Winnie Mutevu from HAART and Miriam Ayoo from PAWA254 then introduced the two organizations.

Throughout the night we had performances from different talented young people. We had an acrobatic dance from a group of boys and girls from Mukuru Slum Development Projects. This performance was greatly applauded. We also had poetry from different Sheddy Poet, Jay poeTree, Rachel Akinyi and Megan. Lastly, we had two song performances from Nairobeez and AfroStyles who had recorded a song for this project.

Some of the key invited guests graced the stage with short remarks. Noela Barasa from UNODC introduced the World Day against Trafficking in Persons and the theme of this year since UNODC is the flag bearer for this day. Caroline Njuki, the Regional Migration Coordinator form IGAD also spoke about trafficking from a regional perspective and gave a passionate appeal for more collaboration. The director of HAART, Radoslaw Malinowski was also not left behind, he explained what human trafficking is and of HAARTs stand in matters trafficking.

An award called the Survivor’s Choice Award was presented to  Brian Omolo who was one of the exhibiting artists. Brian had traveled during the day before, so his brother was at the opening to receive the award on Brian’s behalf. The art had been shown to a group of survivors of trafficking and they choose the art piece that they liked the most, and the survivors chose ‘Lamenting’ by Brian Omolo. This means that the survivor could easily relate to his art piece. The award was presented by Ms. Finali Galaiya who is the current Miss India Worldwide Kenya 2016 and Miss Attitude East Africa 2016 and who in her position has chosen to create awareness about human trafficking.

After the performance arts and the speeches, the guests went upstairs to view the art in this year’s A2ES project. The art pieces were beautifully hanged in the art space upstairs and the guests enjoyed viewing them. It was a very successful opening with around 700 guests, many completely new to the concept of human trafficking.

The social media was also buzzing the whole night and the project was trending on Twitter Kenya for 4 hours during the night.

In summary, the opening night was one full of pomp and color. We are grateful for the amazing turn out and the conversations that were stirred up on the day in and around trafficking.
The exhibition is still open Monday to Saturday until August 13th and entry is free.

By Phyllis Mburu