On November 5th, 2016, Kounkuey Design Initiative, in partnerships with Nairobi Design Week and Sun King, hosted an event that showcased the work of Kibera’s most prominent artisans. The event was part of the second annual Nairobi Design Week (NDW), which ran throughout the city from November 3rd – 12th, 2016. The event was a great success, and attendance exceeded expectations.
In honor of this year’s theme, “Artisans and Start-ups,” KDI hosted an Artists’ Exhibition Stand highlighting the work of artisans locally known as “Jua Kali.” Given that only 50,000 Kibera residents out of a population exceeding 700,000 are formally employed, the Jua Kali make great contributions to the local economy. Nairobi is home to the largest number, approximately 1.6 million, of Jua Kali artisans, and this informal sector leads Kibera in terms of job creation. Other local artisans, including Kiki Weavers, Kibera Talking, Lindi Pesa, Macharia Carpenters, Kibera Creative Arts, Made in Kibera, Patch’s Kiosk, Gyfe Youth Initiative also displayed and sold a variety of goods, including water hyacinth baskets, beaded jewelry, printed t-shirts, and recycled thrift shop goods. Nairobi City County Government (NCC) will continue to engage these local artisans in the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year, by encouraging them to participate in product exhibitions that will help expose their work to a global market. (You can read more about these efforts here.)
During the event, there was a Performance Area that showcased the abundant and diverse talents found in Kibera, ranging from hip hop rappers and freestyling to bongo, and kapuka music. A dance competition for children and youth kicked off the performances, followed by an acrobatic troupe that also entertained residents and visitors who attended the event. Nearly 40 talented Kibera youths amazed the crowd. In between performances, residents and artisans from Kibera, along with participants from other organisations in Nairobi, gathered in the KDI Hub to have a conversation about artisans and start-ups in Kibera. The loosely structured conversation was free-flowing and relaxed and even included a discussion about Kenya Vision 2030.
Throughout the day, KDI displayed its work as part of an exhibition in the KDI hub, where visitors learned about KDI’s work with the Kibera Public Space Project over the past ten years, as well the outcomes of KDIs urban flooding household survey. Sun King from Green Light Planet also had an exhibit showcasing their cost efficient solar lighting products designed for the home.
The event culminated in the presentation of the TujengeKibera Competition prizes, which KDI launched as part of the TujengeKibera Competition and Social media campaign during the first Nairobi Design Week held last year. The Tujenge Kibera competition and campaign highlights stories of positive change within Kibera. Twenty applicants applied to the competition, submitting stories about current projects in the settlements and presented dream projects applicants wish to see realized. Some of the applicants represented self-help groups, youth groups, women’s groups, and individuals. Four applicants were shortlisted, and eventually Cynthia Munyiva Mutia was declared the winner, with Atieno Otieno as first runner up. Atieno Otieno planned to use the Tujenge Kibera award to start a youth group and savings and loans group that would work like a SACCO, but the selection committee chose Cynthia Munyiva Mutia’s idea to set up a scholarship fund for students at ANWA School. You can read more about the scholarship and about Cynthia in our next blog, where we will interview Cynthia and discuss her award winning idea and story of positive change.
By Amos wandera.