Make (MA-O-K-WO) is a Shona word (a native language from Zimbabwe) that translates to Hands. Physically and metaphorically speaking, our hands play a crucial role in our day-to-day lives and enables us to carry out simple and complex tasks.
There’s a belief in Zimbabwe; that when a child is born, they come with clenched fists because they hold on to their gifts. However, their palms open up as they share their talents with the world.
At MAOKWO, this is our philosophy and practice; we reach out to sections of society that need hands to hold on to, and we do so by giving them our hand
How did MAOKWO come about?
Today, we are more global than a local city, region, or country. As people migrate to different places because of political and economic instability or even work opportunities, they bring along; their cultures and identity to their new place of residence. And this brings us to the question; How accepting are we of those who make this land their home?
MAOKWO was born of the experiences of its Founder & Creative Director, Laura N Nyahuye, an artist from Zimbabwe who came to the United Kingdom in 2002. She acknowledges coming face to face with labels, like the other, the migrant, the asylum-seeker, the refugee.
Laura's experiences got her to question what had happened to humanity? However, it was her faith in God and her art that helped her navigate through the journey.
Thus, Maokwo was born with the ambition to bring about the change we wanted to see. And since our inception, we have always been ready to respond creatively to real-life issues and causes.
We work primarily in supporting marginalised and minority groups, especially women, children, refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant artists. We do so through our various projects and programmes.
Our vehicle to change is Love, Prayer, Peace, and Art. As people of colour, our stories matter. So we take responsibility to create our own.
We see Maokwo as ‘pfuko’ - a traditional clay brewing pot - with the lived experiences of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, minoritised humans, and artists from migrant backgrounds at the heart of what we do and how we creatively respond. We tackle under-representation, working with clients from all different backgrounds - communities on the margins, women, young people, families - developing a universal language, and ways of being that are inclusive.
We tell the stories of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers; develop projects in response to needs and experiences of the artists and communities we work with; provide opportunities for artists from these backgrounds to explore and develop their creativity in an authentic way that is true to their cultures. We share their stories with a wider public as audiences, and provide consultancy for partners we work with. The majority of our advisory board are people with lived experience as first or second generation migrants, refugees and asylum seekers