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- Sustainable Africa
For many years rural African villages have preserved the traditional ways of living that their ancestors passed down to them. Using traditional cookery to cook their food. Building stoves from mud mixes and wood. Rural Africans have used sustainable ways of living for years. From growing their own fruits and veg to washing their clothing with their hands. It has been a simple way of life for them. However, there has been conversation around sustainable urbanisation in African countries, looking at how villages and towns can be redeveloped to meet the sustainable goals set by the UN. It sounds great, doesn't it? Having running water 24/7 will mean more young girls can go to school instead of trekking miles to fetch it. Running electricity will mean more uses of technological advancement for young people, allowing them to start a business, learn a new skill or complete their studies. A sustainable Africa will help countries build a good economic structure and lifestyle for their citizens. However, all of this does come with an expense. Major cities in Africa have taken the western way of living and communing. Many parents work full-time in white-collar jobs leading to them finishing later than usual. It has really destroyed the nuclear family that has been part of African tradition for years, leaving only rural towns and villages that still uphold it. Many ways of communing with loved ones have changed over the years in African cities, as many people would rather go to restaurants than cook and eat traditional foods at home. Many young Africans are slowly beginning to lose their culture and traditional ways of living. Having a new sustainable Africa would mean the reconstruction of kitchens. While it will lead to some improvements in lifestyle, it will affect the way households cook traditional foods. This is because clay pots cannot be used on electric stoves as they were created mainly for wood fire. Outdoor cooking promotes communalism, allowing families to gather, encouraging fellowship together by cooking and sharing food with each other. Having new housing means that more families are unable to breed chickens or other live animals. Another reason why sustainability in Africa may not work is because of the structure of villages and townships, especially when it comes to electric poles. Many rural areas in Africa are overcrowded and have poor roads and potholes. It can be dangerous to have electric poles in those areas, as it is advised that residents should live more than 600 metres from a power line. This is impossible in rural spaces because houses and shops are built close together, making it impossible to connect power lines to the area. Many places have their power lines on farms far away from residential areas. However, there have been some complaints from farmers who say that having a power line on their farms is affecting the health and safety of their workers. In rural settings, another issue is potholes. Many electric poles are installed in unsafe spaces where there are damaged drains and potholes. In Congo, there was an incident when an electric pole was struck by lightning and killed 26 people. The market traders say this was due to badly maintained potholes in the town. When thinking about sustainable Africa, a plan needs to be created so that the roads, potholes and drains are repaired and well looked after. On paper, having rural Africa urbanised sounds good. A new way of life, possibly leading to better living conditions and opportunities for the younger generation. However, it does have its disadvantages that could cause the next generation to lose their culture and traditions to a western way of living. If a re-development of roads in rural areas is not considered, then they could be a major health and safety issue which could lead to the loss of human life. A sustainable Africa has to really consider the preservation of traditional ways of living.
- The Baton as a conversation starter
For me, as a mother, artist, human, woman, woven into the conversations, collaborations, partnerships I have, is the desire to build a legacy, a legacy that will hopefully touch lives, build bridges, help us to see each other beyond the colour of our skin. We are all human with red blood running through our veins. The decision to be part of a project that centred around the Commonwealth was not an easy decision, bearing in mind the history of the commonwealth. One of the important deciding factors for me was Legacy. l quickly realised that it was important for me to be part of this rare opportunity. To tell the story, to be the voice that will inspire marginalised communities as well as ALL classes, that ‘together, we can’. My heart was on women and younger people. We are living in a world that has a long way to go to do with representation. Historical events like the Commonwealth Games are a platform to communicate meaningful messages that in turn births LEGACY (inheritance heritage). I grew up around creativity, l enjoyed exploring all forms of creativity. Once in the UK I further explored my love of crafts and designing. Little did l know that my creativity will weave in advocacy, community, humanity. About 21 years ago, when I migrated to the UK, as I always say, l became a black woman. Not only did l become a black woman, I noted the culture differences pretty fast. The general consensus is: it’s hard to make it in the arts and culture industry, well, tell that to a migrant artist or an artist of colour, the challenges are layered, therefore harder. As a result of my lived experience and observing other minoritised humans lived experiences l was compelled to found the organisation Maokwo, supporting marginalised, minoritised groups refugees, asylum seekers and migrants artists, engaging communities using Art as a Vehicle. The Queen’s Baton project consumed me. I became deeply invested like never before and l know why: - It was my lived experience: therefore, it was deeply personal - It was the Queen’s Baton, that’s a rare opportunity - l didn’t want it to be just a Baton that celebrates the Games and that’s it. I wanted it to be meaningful. It was to do with the obvious, complexities connected to the history of the Commonwealth, it was the complexities that were coming up in our collaboration with a team of white male humans, who were commercially driven (not in touch with the Commonwealth lived experience) vs I, a lived experience artist, young creatives from minoritised backgrounds and a community grassroot lived experience organisation. Tough combination. Here are some of the essential points I kept in mind throughout the project: 1. Women are thermostats, women are key to thriving communities around the world, they are mothers, aunties, midwives. The Queen is a mother, grandmother. How do we make her relevant? How does a woman in a village in Kenya, relate to the Queen? 2. The wear and tear of the Queen’s Baton was an important element, message: It was a representation of exchanging wisdom. Older generation to the younger. Younger generation to the older. Passing the Baton. Passing wisdom. 3. It was important to use non-precious materials like copper, aluminium, materials that are relatable to Commonwealth countries, materials that represent everyday humans. Affordable, recyclable materials. My expertise as an artist, designer, storyteller and advocate for minoritised/marginalised groups and women was key to this project, as a testament to what some may call ignorance or testament to my never tiring hope for a united world. But l didn’t anticipate the trauma and emotional labour that later came with my role. Collaborations can be challenging, however, this was my hardest yet. My mind is still processing that I’ve had the opportunity to be part of something so big, something beyond me. The opportunity to spread Love on a global level, it’s been humbling, exciting, terrifying and surreal. I’ve learnt a lot, met amazing humans along the way. These are extracts from the 2022 booklet Tip of the Iceberg: Laura Nyahuye, The Artist behind the Queen’s Baton. (linked below) Thank you to Karen Newman, founder of BOM, for inviting Laura Nyahuye/Maokwo to this project. The Queens Baton was created in collaboration with BOM (Birmingham Open Media), Raymont Osman, Kajul and Maokwo.
- Reflecting on the Creation of the Queen's Baton
Creating the Queen’s Relay Baton took several creative and experimental thinking with an immense amount of consideration for the Baton's journey, its practicality and design. I believe our initial goal as Maokwo representatives was to create something that will inform the ideology from which the Commonwealth is established and a representation of the common society. Nurturing and Leadership are some of the fundaments that narrated our concepts. With the Queen’s upcoming jubilee, it was important to celebrate this alongside her role as a motherly figure in a leadership role. The structure and shape of our Baton took inspiration from these ideas, with organic material promoting sustainability and commonwealth. The composition of natural commodity and fluidity included all walks of the Commonwealth nations. We also felt the city of Birmingham has largely influenced the culture and shaping of the UK in terms of its democratic and industrial revolution history. The designer engineers at Raymont Osman and Kajul were essential in visually dissecting our ideas and concept while implicating all practicality of the object. Raymont Osman organised an amazing productive space where both artists and designers worked perfectly in collaboration by sharing researched observations and product knowledge while exchanging ideas and thoughts. I believe the concepts we established were important based on the topics they addressed, such as women’s equal rights, black lives and gender marginalisation. These topics were not only important worldly conversations but also personal to some of the members of the creative parties. We as Maokwo were concerned that in the manifesto of the Baton, some established ideas weren’t elaborated on nor exuded at all. This, unfortunately, suggested a lack of interest from the designing team to challenge the oppression some minority groups must experience, therefore leaving the story behind the Baton disorientated between the product and its functional concept. It’s no surprise that the judging board sensed some of this disorientation and asked the design team to reconsider the concept. Once they did, we still detected the design team only included ideas they felt most comfortable with. Despite these challenges and lack of acknowledgement of the process from which I believe originates the basis of embarking on the opportunity to complete this project, I still strongly believe the Baton itself holds the concepts and ideas we narrated. I am extremely proud to be part of conceptualising this Baton and I enjoyed the opportunity to experience the process. Thank you to Karen Newman, founder of BOM, for inviting Laura Nyahuye/Maokwo to this project. The Queens Baton was created in collaboration with BOM (Birmingham Open Media), Raymont Osman, Kajul and Maokwo.
- Fusion Artist Network
PROJECT Fusion Artist Network Fusion Artist Network Through this project we aim to provide a platform for artists, help them connect with potential partners and share opportunities that can take them to the next level. The Fusion Artist Network came about as a lived experience of MOAKWO’s founder Laura Nyahuye. The question that often came up was; Why should Art or creative practice be accessible to a few? And so was born the Fusion Artist Network Project. A Networking group made up by Artists and for the Artists. To promote themselves, their work and find avenues and support through like-minded individuals. Through an invite only Whatsapp group, participants are encouraged to share anything they come across that can help their projects or help other artists find new projects and work. Project Gallery Previous Project Next Project Participate in this Programme REGISTER INTEREST Are you an artist or someone based in Coventry, West Midlands, wanting to get involved in the creative industry. to join the project register your interest here. Partner with us Are you looking for new talent in various art forms and disciples? Do you have an event or a programme that can benefit artists especially from the marginalised and minority background. To know more, register your interest here. REGISTER INTEREST Donate
- YXNG & GXFTED
PROJECT YXNG & GXFTED YXNG & GXFTED A project to give young people a voice to make changes in spaces they don't seem themselves. The Yxng&Gxfted project works with young people aged 11-17 year from migrant and marginalised communities. Through this project these young people are given the opportunity to learn and experience what it means to be an artist, and explore various art practices. This is done through creative workshops and training, the project also participates in wider projects such Black Futures and CVX to name a few. Project Gallery Previous Project Next Project Participate in this Programme REGISTER INTEREST If you would like to be a part of the Yxng & Gxfted Project, register your interest here. Partner with us Are you looking to work with young people aged 11-17 years, then we have some synergy going. To know more, register your interest here. REGISTER INTEREST Donate
- Young Leadership Programme | Maokwo
PROGRAMME Young Leadership Through the Young Leadership Programme we aim to enable migrant artists to develop & establish their creative practice and expose them to the creative & cultural industries, creating opportunities and equity. In the words of Cesar A Cruz; ‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’, is a philosophy that deeply resonates with MAOKWO. Therefore, as an organisation we are dedicated to developing young talents from migrant communities and fostering a new generation of young leaders in the arts and our communities. The Young Leadership Programme was born out of our FUSION ARTIST NETWORK project. In the year-long programme, we work with 5-7 young people (aged 18-25) in each cohort. The participants are encouraged to develop their work through training & workshops by industry practitioners. They are also encouraged to network and build their own networks to establish themselves as artists. On the completion of the programme, the Young Leaders exhibit their artworks at a recognised institution, putting them at par with the professional world. Programme Gallery Participate in this Programme If you would like to join the programme as a participant, please send us a statement of interest along with samples of your work. REGISTER INTEREST Partner with us The Young Leadership Programme is expanding itself to different creatives, and if you would like to partner with us, please get in touch. REGISTER INTEREST