Thursday, 17 December 2009

k!7 The Hope in Her Child's Dreams ~ Poems and Pictures from South Africa

The Hope in Her Child's Dreams ~ Poems and Pictures from South Africa

Welcome to k!7, where kushinda! introduces Tsepo Gumbi, a young poet and artist from Sharpeville, one of the most historically significant places in South Africa. He is in his own words 'a shy ordinary fellow who prefers his own space and enjoys the world of creative arts.' He is currently working towards completing his first anthology of poems, which he has also illustrated. Below I have chosen two of Tsepo's poems with their accompanying illustrations. I am struck first by the love in his words and the great empathy for women, then by the powerful resolve to live in joy and hope - might 'Rock Strong' and 'The Hope In Her Child's Dreams' be metaphors for South Africa ? I don't know, I have yet to visit Tsepo's homeland, I will let you decide, but I can not think of better wishes than joy, hope and love to you all this Christmas.

the hope in her child’s dreams

she sinks deep into emotions of despair

her fainting hope fading with invisible air

her heart grieves as she perceives

she bleeds her tears into an empty bowl

she cries her prayers to an open sky

a deaf god

her pleasure is soaked in a river of pain

her eyes, her shame

covered with sympathetic blankets of public pity

she weaves her comfort fabric with fantasy threads

she hangs her child’s dreams on a thin swing string

yet she hopes for a good life for this child

she takes refuge under a refuse bag

poverty greets her good morning with yellow teeth smile

each day she has to survive

hunger and starvation

but when the sun declines his light

the night rises and falls on the same poverty plight

and when tomorrow dawns

with yellow teeth smile

she has drowned even deeper into a misery tank

she cries her prayers to the open sky of a deaf god

for grace, but again the widow weeps in vain

the window of heaven’s door is closed

she is slowly swallowed by a swarm of gloom clouds

but she never ever abandons the hope in her child's dreams

she never did abandon the child and his crazy dreams

am her child

and the words of this poem are the dreams of my hope

the hope in her child’s dreams

the burden she never abandoned

i am the hope in her eyes’ dreams

rock strong

women are rock strong

you strike a woman

you knock a hard rock

rocks never feel pain

rocks cannot cry

rocks wont die

women are rocks!

their brittle bodies are unbreakable

when love hurts

your heart hates

when your heart operates on anger

you can easily murder

when you love someone

you wont let them hurt you

if love can make you weep

what can stop it to make you bleed

victim of romantic violence

domestic silence destroys you

bruises don’t make a lady look pretty

break loose!

a woman’s bruised face is like

a butterfly with broken wings

a beautiful rose planted in mud

a bee with rotten honey

Poetry and pictures copyright of Tsepo Gumbi 2009


Friday, 7 August 2009

k!6 ~ "Art also brings to light" ~ Overcoming Societal Divisions in Kisumu, Kenya

Willis Otieno lives and works in Kisumu, Kenya's third largest city, a port on the shores of Lake Victoria on the main road to the Ugandan border. His Takataka Treasures (Trash Treasures) are created with crushed egg shells on black cloth stretched over board. Along with other artists in Kisumu he is involved in developing arts and enterprise initiatives and children's arts projects. Innovation and resourcefulness are two of his essential qualities. Below he shares some of his knowledgeable insights into the day-to-day realities of art and society in Kenya.

~Overcoming Societal Divisions through Art ~

Kisumu residents suffered some of the post-2008 election violence, artists like Willis are using art to begin to heal their community.

"Art is basically one of the components for world peace. Within our set-up this may take a while to believe! People are just beginning to appreciate art and to see that, through art, we are able to highlight effective conflict resolution and peace building techniques, and that these can build bridges of cultural understanding and mutual respect for diversity within our own community.

Art also brings to light people's courage and greatness by calling them into positive action, creating an avenue through which all people have a voice and can experience being heard. This can be achieved by artistic creativity in both performing and visual forms of expression. The local economic trends tend to be one of our major undoings. The governments we've so far had have widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. This trend could be altered through the creation of inter-communal Art and Cultural Exchange programs. Through these, people will get to know what is right and not allow manipulation of the community by the political leadership. They can make friends and accept each other as a family and not see each other as enemies.

At Tong Nyang Artists (a registered Artists' Group in Kisumu) where I am the secretary, we focus on the nurturing of latent art talent in children with an aim of inculcating a sense of peaceful co-existence at a tender age. We engage the children in thematic art activities where they create images exploring their own understanding and perception of peace and other themes. The work they produce is subjected to a guided critique where they are given the opportunity to explain their art, it's inspiration and motivation, with inputs to the discussion encouraged from the other children."

That task, and the task of earning a living, is made more difficult by the broader social, economic, and political landscape, as Willis ably explains.

"Due to socio-economic trends, the local artists' social circles are among the lower economic classes which the more affluent within our Kenyan society rarely frequent. This means that their art products are not accessed by those with the capacity to buy. The few locals that appreciate art are usually economically hard hit, so much so that art to them is a luxury they can't afford. But when an artist thinks of venturing into markets that are patronized by the better-off, the high cost and charges for the available amenities scare them off. From the petty earnings of an artist, he or she can not afford to pay the exorbitant charges for the exhibition halls visited by the wealthy.

Most overseas visitors, on the other hand, tend to appreciate art and would always wish to carry an art piece home as a souvenir. They also tend to be more ready to buy at a more reasonable rate than the locals. But the population of foreign clients in Kisumu is so minimal in comparison to the number of local artists and art dealers, and largely seasonal too. This makes relying on the foreign market a challenge and creates very stiff competition within art business circles. It is also a reason for the great tendency for replication of artworks and the flooding of curio shops with the same types of products, killing creativity in the process! Occasionally, due to various reasons, there are travel advisories from overseas countries against visiting. Then the visitors come in even more limited numbers, further frustrating those artists who rely on them."

So there are vicious circles in play for artists, as for others in Kisumu and elsewhere, where hardship has led to conflict which in turn drives away trade. Willis and his compatriots are amongst those using and sharing their artistic and creative skills to effect positive change. kushinda! applauds both their methods and their aims, and also the artistic talent and innovation that is exemplified here by Willis's own Takataka Treasures.

Quoted text by Willis Otieno
Eggshell collages ~ Takataka Treasure by Willis Otieno


Sunday, 7 June 2009

k!5 Muli's Great Day - A short story by Kingwa Kamencu

At last - and with apologies for the delay - k!5 is here! I have been busy visiting Africa and am pleased to say that I made the proper acquaintance of everyone so far featured in k!, made many virtual friendships real, and met yet more talented kushinda!minded people. As a result has new artists' galleries and our new kushinda! site has more to offer - but we still need more! You?
But first - read k!5! Kingwa Kamencu is an upcoming young Kenyan writer, 1st prize winner in the youth fiction category of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2007 amongst other accolades. Kushinda! is honoured to be the first to present her latest short story, Muli's Great Day.


Onesmus Muli, a second year student at the Great University was in a good mood. His story had been published in the newspaper! Already he had received some congratulatory phone calls and text messages. He lay back in bed beaming. Wow, I’m famous, he thought, stretching languorously before floating out into the washrooms. Today he did not notice the overflowing hallway garbage can near his door, the blocked bathroom drainage or the icy spray of water from the shower. No, life was too beautiful. He could make out birds chirping somewhere above him. The scent of blossoming flowers from a tree nearby only added to his general state of bliss.

He pulled on jeans and a tee shirt and sat down to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. On an afterthought he sent a classmate going to the tuck shop to buy him milk, a chapatti and a samosa. The usual black tea and half loaf of bread would not suffice. “Keep the change bro, we’re on a roll!” he cheerily told his classmate. The other boy smiled lightly at the measly five bob.

Later, as Muli walked down the stairs of Hall 9, he imagined everybody staring at him, fascinated. They’d probably seen his story in the paper. A few boys greeted him in what Muli could only construe as tones of admiration and awe. He entered the custodian’s office where the 900 boys read the daily from. Leafing through it with about 10 others, he pointed at his story, proudly telling them, “Yeah, that’s me!” He remained there for an hour, pointing out the story to all incoming readers till he was sure he’d left a fair number to tell others on his behalf.

At midday he sauntered to town to buy his own paper. He stopped at the first newspaper vendors. “Two copies of the Un-standard please,” he ordered. “My stories are in it today...” he added for good measure. Unfortunately, the newspaper wasn’t there. Sold out, the vendor told him. Muli moved on to the next stall. Three hours later he was still without a paper. Apparently they had all sold out. Muli stood exasperated. “What’s happening today,” he asked, “why are they sold out everywhere?” The woman selling shrugged. “Hasn’t happened in a long time. Only happens when they carry very serious stories.” Muli stopped short, transfixed at her words. “Say no more!” he beamed and set back for school.

Was his story that good that the papers had sold out? “Can’t be,” he tried to convince himself unsuccessfully. “I shall not tell this to any one though” he vowed “or else they’ll say that I’m bragging like they always do.” And so tight-lipped and with the expression of a pained martyr, he returned to campus. Let them hear of the awards I will win for themselves. I will not be the one to tell them, he thought, referring to his literature classmates. He spent the remainder of the day huddled in his room, fantasizing about his next great story. This one would change the world for sure…

Fortunately, he missed the evening news. The news anchor was reporting on repression of media freedom. The top news for the day was: ‘Government buys out all Un-standard papers and sets them ablaze and raids media house’. Apparently the front pages contained an expose of grand corruption by top government officials. Police had bought up all newspapers in town that day and raided the media house to prevent them printing the next day’s paper which was equally ‘seditious’. Upstairs, Muli scribbled down more profound thoughts.


Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Intrinsic Beauty In Our Ordinary Lives ~ k!4 ~ Art in Uganda ~ A Perspective

Welcome to k!4, presenting work by Sanaa Gateja alongside Sanaa's thoughts on art, artists, and their role in contemporary African culture.

Sanaa runs the Kwetu Africa art gallery and studio in Lubowa, Kampala, an Appropriate Technology Center for the Arts, where he works, teaches, and promotes the use of traditional techniques and recycled materials. He works on locally produced barkcloth which he stitches together to make his canvasses, often incorporating found materials and natural pigments into his work. He also crafts soft furnishings and jewelry with the same artistic integrity and vision which characterises his paintings.
the intrinsic beauty in our ordinary lives

"There is an inherent respect and admiration of artists in Africa as a whole for what they are able to do, even without understanding what they do in these modern times of Western domination of materials, production and market. For the African Artist's place has shifted greatly in the last 100 years, as African art itself has experienced an identity shift from a people's art with indigenous patronage to one which belongs to a world of universal expression and appeal - this is the inevitable result of schools and interaction with other cultures of the world. This has left the African people isolated from their art and their artists because of the very dramatic transition the continent has gone through."

"Artists have the ability to somersault into the new world with ease
even though they have the same heavy demands on their lives as everyone else. Creative talent has not been valued enough in our societies and not used for development . A very unique political and economical situation has evolved where the artist is seen as a magician and a visionary, or as a trickster and a liar. Schools are not teaching Art the way it should be taught. This year's best student at our national University was announced to tremendous applause by the Vice Chancellor to an audience of about 1000 parents and graduates. However, when it was announced that this student belonged to the Faculty of Arts and Industrial Design a whole three quarters of the audience booed and deflated the whole experience. I wanted to scream. The African Artist therefore, and in our Ugandan society in particular, is alone and isolated."

"The answer in my view as an African, and Ugandan for that matter, lies in bridging the gap between the Artist and community. We need to rediscover the materials used by our own masters of the past, the techniques used, the tools and the close observation of aesthetics, especially the intrinsic beauty in our ordinary lives. Recycling has a large place in art of Africa and teaching of appropriate technology will stimulate innovation that much further in our ordinary lives. A new language exists in mixed media art. I am very interested when I teach in exposing the world of adventure and experimentation to the students. It is the way to originality. The magic in art will be demystified to our societies on a broader scale. "

Words in quotation by Sanaa Gateja for kushinda!
Paintings by Sanaa Gateja

View more work by Sanaa Gateja online at kushinda!'s new website

Art is the Heart of Culture, Creativity the Power of Progress
when arts rise...

A note about links in kushinda! : I try to find informative and relevant pages to link to, sometimes these are straightforward dictionary definitions, sometimes encyclopedic, sometimes I come across journals, blogsites, organisations, and academic papers that seem particularly appropriate to the context in which kushinda! or its contributors use the word or phrase concerned. My intention is always to inform and to stimulate debate and communication. Suggestions for links are always welcome, as are your comments and submitted contributions to kushinda!

Monday, 23 February 2009


Welcome to k!3, where Kenyan writer Richard K responds to his experience of an IDP camp in Gulu, Uganda, in prose and poetry, and Louisa M.J. in Wales responds to his words using digital and acrylic media . Coming up in the next issue : Traditional artist Sanaa Gateja paints on barkcloth, his pupil Kateeba Anthony prefers a more modern approach - kushinda! explores their techniques, motives and inspirations. Past Issues : k!2 Matt Bish on Ugandan films k!1 music, art, theatre


The Children of the Camps and the Angels of Mercy
by Richard K

The bright sun moves down the cloudless sky yet another day

Over the desperate eye of an expecting soul,

Its ominous heat burning the earth to red ash

And the whirls gathering the ash into dust.

The wind has not won the fight

To drive the red dust away,

Neither has the rain come trickling down

To cool the boiling souls to hope.

The expecting eye wanders away

To seek the face of an approaching visitor,

The heart runs but the lips remain tight.

And oh, the silence!

The hardly covered bodies,

Their beginning-to-bulge bellies,

The scarcely-haired scalps,

The parentless kids,

The kidless parents,

The innumerable beads of mud shacks,

The numerable grains on infected floors,

The spectacle of searing hope under the Gulu sun!

Is it not a sad story?

The children are sick of the disdain,

The children wish to laugh again

And play and run home to warmth again,

But who has called their mercies forth,

And shaken their hands free,

To cradle the children to their breast

When they come running to them?

We are clamped up in an
old van, about nineteen of us including the driver. The journey to the camps seems endless. I cannot estimate how long it took us to arrive there for I had completely lost the sense of time on arriving in Gulu. Keeping a watchless wrist to me is a habit that dies hard since I sometime fail to see the logic of dividing up the river of time or attaching numbers to it. However, the about thirteen kilometres road down to the nearest camp is rough and dusty, and seems to start right where the tarmac connecting it to Gulu town ends. One has to climb down a small depression that stands as a mystical demarcation between rustic and urban, galore and dearth, hope and despair. I deeply sympathise with those that have taken the road to the camps without the hope of return.

The van moves at a very slow speed on taking the dusty road as if afraid of venturing further down and, led by Dennis Kimambo in the words of some Alma mater lyrics that he sung to his high school bus driver, and in chanting some Kenyan matatu, hyped up whimsical we encourage the driver to keep pressing the accelerator ever harder. I am sandwiched between two beautiful Ugandan ladies and listening to one Joanita Nambi on my right who relates to me the challenges she is encountering trying to sell the ABC ideals of Roll Back AIDS , but I am not fated to concentrate entirely since the van keeps sucking in dust that has now almost suffocated us. The creaking sound of the old loose metalwork scares me and I am afraid that the chassis will give in under the pressure of our load as the van keeps coming down hard upon the bumpy road. My fears are almost consummated when Christina's car, in the dexterous hands of our friend George, fires fast past us leaving behind it a monstrous cloud of red dust that swallows us, obscuring almost everything, but luckily the van does not veer off to hell as I was fearing.

There are three modern buildings on the one side of the narrow pathway that deviates a short distance off the main road into the camp. One of the buildings is a pavilion with the resemblance of a mystical shrine while the other two hold the offices for charity and other welfare services. In one of the rooms an adult education class is in progress and I am worried lest we be mistaken for tormentors when we rush in interrupting, but George, swiftly as always, intercedes for the entire group in a translated explanation not only of who we are but our mission here as well. Outside a group of half-naked children - most of whom bear two shiny stripes stretching between nose and mouth, a trademark of an ailing infant population – mills around the building like disheveled scavengers milling around a feasting pride of wild cats. I want to sit for a photo with them but when I beckon to them to congregate some tall boys, (from whence they appear is a puzzle to me), with forbidding countenances warn them against what I conjecture as mixing with or bothering the visitors. Nevertheless I remain adamant until at last the children submit to my persuasion and Paul, Madi and I in turns seat ourselves for photos with the children, who cling to our trousers like they shall never let go. The children's eyes remain glued to the empty mineral water bottle that I am holding, luckily I manage to quickly dispose of it without their noticing.

Across the other side of the pathway, when we turn to look, the actual camp stands - a regrettable vista of a multitude of tiny thatch and mud huts that seems to extend ad infinitum . Charity and I are in front leading the group into the camp but we are halted to give room for George's vanguard. Meanwhile, Charity and I challenge each other to discover the purpose of an unroofed hut, much smaller than the rest, that stands on the camp threshold like a ghost some ten metres or so away from the next hut. I am utterly disturbed on tugging at the gaping door, not by the appalling stench that suddenly screams into my nostrils but by the mound that has formed through accumulation of continual defecations and the some-inches-deep footprints upon it that make it look like a large ghostly face, mockingly staring,that seems to have stifled the stench until the moment we peer through the door. The other huts are about the size of a soccer pitch center circle or smaller and each is just a few centimetres away from the other as if one would not stand up alone . There is however enough room for paths about the camp but the striking closeness of the huts has a rather profound meaning: the extent to which the magnetism of common social predicament has pulled the compact of the people of the camps tightly together. As we walk about the camp I note that much of it is deserted save for a few people, most of whom are old folks. These, like the children, are poorly dressed and look rather emaciated. One cannot help but notice their scantiness accentuated by the amount of grains (enough to feed a single hen for two days), predominantly maize and sorghum, drying on the floors. Outside another hut I notice a heap of cones of some local fruit (is it wild or not?) but I do not comprehend whence the cones come or what they are for until we nearby encounter some men - I am not sure if youthful or otherwise - who are gradually soaking in some intoxicating local flavour and when those behind us salute them the men mockingly intonate in some bad Kiswahili.

It does not takes us long to emerge on the other side of the camp where we find the shopping centre comprised of, as the rest of the camp, fabricated buildings of mud. The children, those who attend, are returning home from school and Njoki and Brenda lead the rest of the group in singing some songs. Sweets are bought for the children and some kind words are exchanged. I am finding the urge to have another puff irresistible and so I cross to the other side of the road, lest I set the grass thatched camp ablaze,to light my cigarette . Thinking about accidental fire attracts me to the consideration that I can almost hear the scarcely green grass cracking under the immense heat. I also re-examine my need to smoke while those children have hardly enough for dinner, but I succeed in consoling myself that it makes little difference if I, after all, puff out my stick now or not.

Much calmer than when we came we ride back in almost muted silence. I go straight to the lady who had fueled the desire to visit the camps and I find courage to express my most sincere gratitude to Christina and the LiA Centre on the one hand and the Charity for Peace on the other for the wonderful work they have done, and continue to do, for the children and the impoverished people. It is my hope that many more people will be touched by the spectacle of wretchedness evident in the camps and will be inspired to do something to improve lives there.

Words : Richard K, Kenya

Pictures : Digital and acrylic montages by Louisa M.J, Wales

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Welcome to k!2

In this issue :

An exclusive interview with film maker Matt Bish

A fascinating insight into the issues affecting the emerging film industry in Uganda, from the problems faced by film makers to film's potential to effect social change, and Matt's own inspirations and approach to making the recent full-length movie Battle of the Souls.

Q From what I read, Kinna Uganda seems to be very much a home-grown, grassroots phenomenon, springing from an established tradition of theatre and stage-acting. Given that film and theatre rely on very different techniques of acting and production, how much do you think the theatrical tradition helps or hinders the development of film making as an industry in Uganda?

A I believe “Kinna Uganda” to some extent does help prepare so many individuals in their respective professions for film and similarly destroys the many would be professionals in the film industry. Why? From my own interpretation, after watching several “kin-Nigeria” movies while I was in film school, I came to the conclusion that any film industry with the “KINNA-something” tag meant that the industry in question was abusing the art of filmmaking. Filmmaking is an art that encompasses all other arts known to man. These may include: Poetry, music, acting, fine-art, writing etc…but our friends in Nigeria don’t respect film as an art. Take a good example of films from Senegal by Ousman Sembene. His films were great and the film industry in Senegal is highly appreciated by film professionals around the world, the reason why they hold a film festival that embraces all beautiful movies made around the world from Africa and the Diaspora.

Ugandans know that these films (kinna-something) are of low quality but they insist on watching them because the films are really entertaining. So, if a low budget movie (kinna Uganda) can get them entertained why then spend so much money on the same movie?

Professions affected here include: Sound recordings, Camera persons (D.O.P)s, Set designers and Production designers, Score composers and Sound designers, etc…

The actors too tend to become rigid and will take too long to understand the differences between the two Arts (Theater and Film). It can take a while during rehearsals before they understand what is required of them.

On the other hand, theater has helped some talents improve in the fields of writing, set designs, costumes and special effects. Individuals will borrow these ideas and present them to their film which for a start isn’t bad at all.

Simply put, “Kinna-Uganda” would mean poor quality films made for entertaining the locals.

Q As an overseas viewer I was immediately struck by the importance of symbolism in 'Battle of the Souls' . The theme of 'going under water' in particular made me think of traditional associations in Welsh and European historical culture of lakes, wells and rivers being associated with spirits and gateways to 'the otherworld' . Of course immersion in water is also a Christian tradition. I am curious as to why you made such a strong association between water and 'the Devil' in your film, is that association a prominent one in Ugandan culture or is it a less well known theme which you chose to develop into a major one specifically for the film?

A There has been a belief that Ugandans that made a lot of money either killed somebody to get his/her riches or visited the voodoo masters who introduced them to the spirits world that required them to sacrifice some beloved people and sleep with demons. This whole process was termed as “going under” and the only medium that can take you under is water. Water acts as a gateway to the underworld i.e. spiritual world. In “Battle Of The Souls”, I wanted the audience to understand that water was just a symbol for the cross-over to the other world where only spirits operated. The movie “Constantine” had a very similar approach to my theme. I wrote this film back in 2003 and Constantine was released late 2003-2004. It was like they had peeped into my script but gave theirs a Hollywood touch very far away from my style! Haha.

Wycliffe in the movie interacted with the three boys as a human being with evil powers and during the exorcism of Ryan it was clear that, while all that was happening, his spirit had gone under to face the demons.

This is also very much fictional but I tried to show my own understanding of going under.

Q I understand that Battle of the Souls was inspired by the true story of Roger Mugisha, and in that sense it is a film with a moral/religious message. What possible roles do you see for Kinna Uganda in the future, as one of the arts, in fulfilling needs for social development and education generally? Do you think it's important to further explore issues surrounding, say, Aids or tribal conflict, or should film as a media concentrate on entertaining people, or are both aspects equally important?

A I guess both aspects are important because Ugandans definitely love to be entertained and its only through entertainment that you can reach the masses of people. We are living in a time where child sacrifices are the main talk of everybody. More than 113 children have gone missing and quite a number have turned up dead. Most of these deaths have been connected to the very rich people who want to appease their gods. It is quite timely that they have the chance to watch this film and understand where its coming from and what message it carries.

Kinna-Uganda can help a great deal in educating people with their moral values and reaffirm their belief in God.

It also doesn’t have to be Kinna Uganda to do that. Great films meant for African audiences can help reach out to individuals and do the necessary.

Films about AIDS are always encouraged. Tribal conflict isn’t really that interesting unless if you are telling a story about the origin of kingdoms. When you concentrate on just entertaining, I feel as an African, that you haven’t used the chance of film to do what is African, that is teach, help spread the word, etc..

Q Finally, what's next for you as a film-maker? Do you have plans for another film, and if so can you give your fans an idea of what we have to look forward to ?

A I’m definitely putting together something. It’ll come and it will be a lot better than the first. That was rather experimental to me…just tasting the waters. That’s all I can say.

Huge thanks to Matt for responding so generously to my interview request, and equally huge thanks to IDTwins for making it possible.

Pics from top to bottom

Matt Bish

'Ryan' (film still)

Battle of the Souls

Battle of the Souls is available on DVD from Wasswa Hassan of Twinex Videos Ltd and Media Pro Ltd, Kampala, Uganda. Do buy it, I did !

Friday, 23 January 2009

k!1-and-a-half (a prelude to k!2)

Whilst gathering material for k!2 I thought I'd wet your appetites with news of what you have to look forward to, the highlight of which will, if all goes to plan, be an interview with Matt Bish of Kinna-Uganda and Battle of the Souls fame. Matt has kindly agreed to humour my curiosity about the Ugandan film scene and his role in it as a director, my research has provided me with some really interesting questions for him, I hope you will come back to read his response to them in k!2.

In the meantime, and to inspire all you budding artists and writers out there, check out some of the links in the sidebar and if you've a few minutes take a look at this video interview with Welsh artist Mary Lloyd Jones, who explains something of the relationship in her paintings between language and landscape. I will be visiting Mary's exhibition early next week. In it's simplest and most basic form we all share a common 'first language', one made up of wordless sounds, nameless shapes, and, as Mary says, 'making marks on the world' by our deliberate physical contact with it. Do you know of any artists, poets, or musicians who have also explored the themes of language, culture, and the physical landscape? What inspires your work?

Please do contact me if you would like to contribute in any way to kushinda! E-mail me at, user name ceris62, or leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


welcome to k!1, the first issue of the kushinda! arts journal, k!

kushinda! is about promoting African artists, musicians, writers, creative people and projects, and helping them reach new audiences online. It will look something like an online magazine or journal, as it grows it will help artists and arts-based organisations to connect with sponsors, customers, and eachother!

in this issue -

art music community theatre children's drama club

This week's featured artist is Moud Kasirivu, seen here at his gallery with his good friend Kayiwa Fred of the Kampala Junior Team (you can read more about them further down the page)

Moud has been painting professionally since the age of 15. Like most African people I have met in this wonderful online world of ours he has had many trials to overcome in his life, being orphaned in childhood and having to drive himself towards his ambitions with little more than the will to succeed. Like many others also he does not forget those who are facing today the same hardships and challenges as he himself has faced, and has given freely of his time to guide and encourage young artists and would-be artists by holding workshops for the Kampala Junior Team. He currently has his own gallery and framing service in Kampala. Recently, many of his paintings were exhibited in Texas, USA. You can see more of Moud's paintings at his blogsite or visit our art! page, where you will find more of his work and contact details.

This week's featured musicians are idtwins - Kato and Wasswa, occasionally joined by their friend Denis, sing in Luganda, Swahili and English. Their music has a bright and lively sound which always makes me think of sunshine (something we need more of in my home country of Wales!) . Their songs reflect the positive spirit of youth and celebrate the opportunities life brings, whilst reminding those in authority of their obligations to manage their world to the mutual benefit of all and especially to those who suffer the consequences of poor planning and divisive policies. 'Mr Kampala', for instance, warns against the dangers to health and wellbeing in the city when basic health facilities are not provided and tribal rivalries allowed to interfere with progress. 'Kama Mbaya Mbaya' tells of the possibilities which open up when young people find work and are rewarded not just with money but with self-respect and a greater sense of control over their own destinies. Of course they also sing of love and the pleasures of living! Listen to them on iLike now!

Kenyan community theatre Repacted and and the children's drama club of the Kampala Junior Team are two examples of organisations using the theatrical arts to explore and educate about health and social issues. Repacted work with older children and young adults in and around Nakuru, Kenya, taking their community theater workshops into prisons, towns and rural areas. The Kampala Junior Team work with girls and boys aged 6 and above in the Kisenyi slum district in Kampala, Uganda. Strikingly these two organisations, despite the difference in age groups, share many of the same aims and concerns and both recognise the great potential of this branch of the arts for raising awareness of, and stimulating debate about, such serious and difficult issues as sexual health, gender equality, and tribal conflict. But wait a second, that doesn't sound like much fun, what could you gain from that experience that you couldn't get from a newspaper or a lecture? What makes art, be it theater, music, film, poetry or painting, so special? How is it we are moved by abstract paintings, or a song that is sung in a foreign tongue? How can a story, made up but well told, teach us more about ourselves than a text book full of facts? And just how special are the people who make these things happen?

What do you think? kushinda! would really like to know!

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