Crafting Kenya

crafting Kenya


This September, Wanja Laiboni will travel throughout Kenya, with a professional photographer, documenting and studying Kenya’s diverse traditional crafts.She aims to collect the stories behind the crafts, the inspiration for their colors and symbols, and the materials and techniques used. The objective is to cover as much ground as possible, ensuring that the wealth of Kenya’s crafts is captured in images and words since the accelerating pace of urbanization and global cultural exchanges – that could potentially erode local cultures – indicates a clear and urgent need for preservation. The final project delivery is a professionally designed, digital compilation of Kenya’s crafts.


I believe that preservation needn’t be a long and bureaucratic process, and that preservation and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive.  In fact, I see the best kind of preservation as being one that transforms culture in its raw form into cultural symbols, products and images that remain present in our everyday lives, as opposed to living in documents in dusty archives that few have access to.

– Wanja Laiboni


Wanja has launched a fundraising campaign at Indiegogo and M-Changa (Kenyan equivalent of Indiegogo). Crafting Kenya now has a team of 7 people based in Kenya, Italy and France. To learn more about her and the impetus behind the project, watch the video below.



One of my favorite aspects of this project is Wanja’s commitment to ensuring the photographs and the information gathered is beneficial to the general public. As such, the final project delivery will also be availed to Kenyan university students in relevant fields of study, National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Tourism Board. She also plans to organise a public photography exhibition at Nairobi National Museum, or other Nairobi-based cultural institutions, at the end of 2014 or early 2015.


wanja quote

Background Photo: Colorful bowls made from Kisii soapstone (found in Western Kenya). Image credit – Wanja Laiboni


Support this incredible project by contributing at Indiegogo, M-Changa or by simply spreading word!

You can also follow Crafting Kenya on Facebook.


wanja logo

Call for Submissions | Future Generation Art Prize 2014

fgap_2014The Future Generation Art Prize are calling artists (up to the age of 35) to sumbit work for this year’s award. There are no restrictions concerning gender, nationality, race or artistic medium. This worldwide contemporary art prize is an innovative international award  investing in the artistic development and new production of works. Awarded through a competition, judged by a distinguished jury, the Prize is founded on the idea of generosity, a network of outstanding patron artists and institutional partners, and a highly democratic application procedure.

The prize was established by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation to discover, recognize and give long-term support to a future generation of artists. The Victor Pinchuk Foundation and the PinchukArtCentre have opened the Application Procedure for the third edition of the Future Generation Art Prize 2014. The deadline for submission is April 12 2014.

Artists are requested to apply online. Starting from 2014 the Future Generation Art Prize will accept applications in 10 different languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. Read more about participation rules here.
The winner receives a total of $100,000: $60,000 as a cash award, and $40,000 towards the production of new work. An additional $20,000 is allocated to fund artist-in-residency programmes for up to five Special prize-winners.

The timeline is as follows:

Application Procedure: 13 January – 12 April 2014

Selection Procedure: April – May 2014

Shortlist Announcement: June 2014

Exhibition of the Shortlisted Artists at the PinchukArtCentre: October 2014 – January 2015

Future Generation Art Prize 2014 Award Ceremony: December 2014

Follow the Future Generation Art Prize at the official website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Awesome Foundation | Apply For A Grant!


Starting January 2014, every month, the Nairobi chapter of The Awesome Foundation are giving away KES 100,000 for “awesome projects”  in Nairobi. Application deadline is the second Friday of each month. The foundation describes their mission and objectives as,

…an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe. Created in…Boston, the Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is pooled together from the coffers of ten or so self-organizing “micro-trustees” and given upfront in cash, check, or gold doubloons.

The chapters are autonomous and organized by the trustees around geographic areas or topics of interest. The Foundation provides these grants with no strings attached and claims no ownership over the projects it supports. It is, in the words of one of our trustees, a micro-genius grant for flashes of micro-brilliance.

Since the foundation’s inception, many Awesome Foundation chapters have sprung up globally co-ordinated by Awesome Without Borders, to conserve, sustain, and support the worldwide ecosystem of awesomeness. Projects have included efforts in a wide range of areas including technology, arts, social good, and beyond. The Awesome Foundation Nairobi is one of these 87 worldwide Awesome Foundation Chapters.
awesome capture

How does it work?

The trustees of the Nairobi Chapter are just regular people living in Nairobi. Every month they individually contribute the equivalent of US$1000 that goes into a pot to fund a project by an individual or group or organization that has “a brilliant idea that brings awesomeness to Nairobi.” They do not charge any fees so don’t be deceived by anyone into paying anything.

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Vote for ‘Yellow Fever’ ! | Afrinolly Short Film Competition

yellow fever

Yellow Fever, by Kenyan artist and filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii has been shortlisted for the Afrinolly short film competition! Yellow Fever won the Silver Hugo for Best Animated Short at the Chicago International Film Festival, Best Short at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, Best Student Film at the Underexposed Film Festival YC, and a Special Mention at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen.


This is the first time it is available to watch online in full for free, ALL 7 minutes of rotoscoping, hand-drawn animation, pixilation and dancing! The film stands the chance to win, $5000 (3rd place) $10,000 (2nd place) and $25,000 (1st place).
Voting ends on Sunday 19th of January.

All you need to do is:
-click here
-Log in using your google+ or Facebook ID (the more the merrier!)
-Yellow Fever is in the Documentary category and you can vote there.

This is the first time Yellow Fever is available to watch online in full for free, ALL 7 minutes of rotoscoping, hand-drawn animation, pixilation, dancing, sweat and blood!!
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Ethiopia Skate


Ethiopia Skate is an organization dedicated to supporting youth in Ethiopia through skateboarding and education. It was founded by Abenezer Temesgen & Sean Stromsoe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They are in the process of establishing a non-profit organization and have collected an international team of skateboarders and organizers to help promote skateboarding in Ethiopia.



They are planning to build Ethiopia’s first mobile mini halfpipe and move it around the city over the course of 2 weeks and will teach children the basics of skateboarding. They will then put the ramp in an accessible location as they build the first ever skatepark in Ethiopian history. They also plan to give at least 100 skateboards to youth organizations and local children as well as start to manufacture their our own decks.

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The Donkey That Carried The Cloud On Its Back


© Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

Director: Philippa Ndisi-Hermann
Producer: Atieno Odenyo
Category: Documentary
Language: English
Crowdfunding period: 12th of November – 22th of December

The International Documentary Film Festival and CineCrowd present a special crowdfunding campaign from Kenya: The Donkey that Carried the Cloud on its Back. The film, by Philippa Ndisi Hermann and Atieno Odenyo also received financial support from the IDFA Bertha Fund and participated in the IDFA WorldView Summer School last July.

This documentary feature film is about the Kenyan island, Lamu, which is an island frozen in time. Now, Africa’s largest port is being constructed there. It was once a rich trading town and the East African coast gave rise to a new culture and a new people – the Swahili. Lamu town survived and has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

The port foundation stone was laid last year. At a cost of 3.5 billion USD, the port will be capable of handling ships almost half the size of the island of up to 100,000 tonnes. Lamu Island has one car and more than 3000 donkeys. Electricity is provided by generators and there is no modern water sewage system. Marginalised economically by mainland Kenya. Lamu relies on tourism where backpackers rub shoulders with the Princess of Monaco.

foreboding change

The use of still photos in the documentary is so as to evoke the possibility of foreboding change. © Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann


A baptism at the shore of the Indian Ocean. Lamu island is predominantly Muslim. The Baptists came from a town 1000 km away. Aug 2013
© Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

The advent of the port is giving rise to land speculations, to environmental concerns, to the influx of people, change is coming, change is needed. Is this what the port will bring?

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East Africa Sundance Institute Theatre Lab | Zanzibar

563050_10151659964608515_644199448_nUnder the supervision of Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, the two-week exchange and development program (November 10-24) is part of the Sundance Institute East Africa initiative, now in its eleventh year, a professional program that creates peer to peer mentorship and exposure opportunities between theatre artists in East Africa and the U.S.  In the spirit of this exchange, Sundance Institute East Africa engages with East African artists in Africa as well as East African artists sharing their work in the U.S. Deborah Asiimwe, Specialist-East Africa, and Roberta Levitow, Senior Program Associate-International and Co-Founder, Theatre Without Borders, co-led this initiative.

While advancing the growth of individual artistic voices, they provide mentorship and professional development opportunities-recognizing and honoring the specific cultural, social, political, and artistic realities of East African life (unique to each country as well as to the continent) within both the design and the implementation of the Program. Sundance Institute East Africa is not a training program.

The primary goals of this exchange are to foster:

  • The growth of the American theatre artist and field through interactions in East Africa and with East African artists
  • The growth of the East African theatre artist and field through international exposure and exchange



Sundance Institute have announced the artists and projects selected for its first Theatre Lab on Zanzibar, which have now concluded. Deborah Asiimwe, Specialist-East Africa, and Roberta Levitow, Senior Program Associate-International and Co-Founder, Theatre Without Borders, co-led this initiative.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said,

Our East Africa initiative is rooted in the understanding that exchange opportunities for independent artists, though rare, promote the inclusiveness and diversity of story that ultimately serves to advance the field of theatre.

Himberg said,

This is our third residency in the region. Two previous Labs were hosted on Manda Island, Kenya. Hosting our first Theatre Lab on Zanzibar, Tanzania, as part of our longstanding East Africa initiative allowed us to extend our unique and renowned model of creative support to artists in the region. We are grateful to our artists, both in East Africa and from the U.S., for contributing to an international conversation that enables us to better understand the role of the artist in our respective cultures.

The creative teams and projects participating in the Theatre Lab on Zanzibar were:

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KSh 600 Million boost for Kenyan Film & Music Industries


The Kenyan government has set out plans to upgrade music and film industries through the National Youth Enterprise Development Fund. According to the chairman Gor Semelango, Sh600 million has been set aside for this venture. Sh 300 million is to be given as interest free loans for film production in rural areas and tapping talent. According to Semelango, the Fund will revolutionise the industry whose main players are young people,

The (rest of the) amount will go towards developing local music in a bid to create employment and grow talent…We have outlined measures and structures that if implemented would create over 5,000 employment opportunities annually for the young people…President (Uhuru) Kenyatta directed that local content aired on local TV stations be increased from the current 40 per cent to 60 per cent and we aim at doing that.

Semelango was speaking in Kandara, Murang’a when he gave cheques and incubators to the fund’s beneficiaries.  Murang’a Women Representative Wanjiru Chege said youth and women living with disabilities will also get special preference when they apply for funding. Semelango also urged local television stations to air more local content to exploit home-grown talent. Mr Semelango said a film committee has been formed to spearhead film production in the villages and recruit talent. Mr Semelango added that the Fund is now easier to access and asked the youth to take advantage of it. He added,

We have removed the bottlenecks that hampered the transfer of funds from the banks to the youths and they can now get it directly at the grassroots.

Kendu Hearth | Conference on Innovation & Hybridity in African & International Theatre

1001802_10153023197035360_1514434804_nKEBUForum, in collaboration with international theatre companies IFT (It’s A Freedom Thing theatre), and Volcano Theatre present a pilot programme during a celebratory week of public discourse on innovation and hybridity in African and international storytelling. During these five days, conversations, master classes, panel discussions and performances will be presented to ensure a theoretical approach as well as practical demonstration of hybrid form of theatre. There will be reflection and dialogue on what ethos to carry into work inspired by works that are cutting edge, works that push boundaries, and works that are experimental. The Conference will draw Speakers and Participants from three different Continents: Africa, Europe and North America.

From 26th-31st of August 2013, notable Ugandan and International theater-makers will lead conversations, offer workshops, and showcase their work at Buzz restaurant and lounge, Bugolobi, Kampala.

Award-winning Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, will deliver the keynote speech on ‘Owning the African narrative.’ The theme of the conference is “Innovation and Hybridity in African and International Performance.” Key topics for discussion include:

  • Sustainable theatre business practice/finding funding
  • Embracing multiple narratives and art forms
  • Ugandanness, Africanness and Blackness
  • “She is the story”: women and the theatre
  • Theatre as a political advocate

Each day will feature public performances, including poetry by Donna Michelle St. Bernard and a musical theater piece Dawn of the Pearl by Acaye E. Pamela on Wednesday August 28, 2013 at the Sheraton hotel, Kampala.



On Thursday August 29, Nova Bhattacharya, a Toronto-based Bharanatayam dancer, will blend this ancient Indian dance form with modern dance at 6pm at Buzz restaurant and lounge. Friday night will host the premier African performance of the internationally acclaimed play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour; the piece will star celebrated Ugandan sketch comic Frobisha  Lwanga.

Master classes are free but require prior online registration as space is limited; panel discussions, presentations and most other events are free and open to the public with the exception of a few paid benefit performances. For further information, including program details, prices, times, and to register online please visit the Kendu Hearth website, their Facebook page and find them on twitter.


Photo credit: Mariuxi Zambrano

Mumbi Tindyebwa is a Kenyan-Ugandan-Canadian Theatre creator and Director raised in Kenya and Victoria, BC and now based in Toronto. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of IFT Theatre and recent participant in the distinguished Michael Langham Workshop in Classical Direction at Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In 2011, Mumbi was honored with the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Protege Award and nominated for the John Hirsch Award in Direction. She has also received funding support for her work and development as an artist through the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Theatre Ontario.

deborah asiimwe

Photo credit: Philippa Ndisi Hermann

Currently working as Specialist for Sundance Institute East Africa in New York, Deborah Asiimwe is an award winning playwright, performer, and producer. She is a 2006 recipient of a scholarship of merit in Writing for Performance from California Institute of the Arts, where she graduated with a Master in Fine Arts (MFA) degree in 2009. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Makerere University, in Kampala-Uganda. Asiimwe is a recipient of the 2010 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) New Generation Future Leaders grant to work with the Sundance Institute Theatre Program.

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Call for Submissions | DOCUBOX – The East African Documentary Film Fund


DOCUBOX is a new East African documentary film fund that supports documentary filmmakers from  Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with grants to complete their projects. They  also provide support and input from internationally acclaimed documentary filmmakers from the conceptual stage, right through to the production and post-production stages of our supported projects.

Submit your documentary film project and become a DOCUBOX member when you do.

The deadline for this year is October 1st 2013.

submit your applications here.

Applications for funding are currently only for projects being shot and produced within Kenya, by nationals from the specified regional countries. The films are supported in two stages:

  1. project development & trailer development
  2. production &  post-production

In the first part of the program, DOCUBOX will offer a maximum of 10 filmmakers the chance to develop their concept and make trailers, or shoot a short section of their film, supported by grants of $2,000. All participating filmmakers granted $2,000 to make these trailers and are not selected for further development by DOCUBOX, are free to use these trailers to pursue further funding or to develop the trailers into feature films, provided they credit DOCUBOX for the development grant assistance.

In the second stage of the program, a selection panel will choose the most promising projects from the completed trailers and support a maximum of 6 projects each receiving a maximum of $25,000 to complete production of their films.


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