Kenyan artists take on new ground

December 9, 2013

Creative minds in the Kenyan capital Nairobi descended on one of the city’s shopping malls as part of a new Hivos-supported initiative that aims to innovate, create and entertain.

The Sondeka Arts Festival is the brainchild of the Creatives Garage, which is a trust that enables creative entrepreneurs to share their work, learn, access new markets, network and inspire more creativity.

From November 29 to December 1, the open spaces at the Green House Mall were taken over by various artists, thus giving them the opportunity to showcase their work. Sondeka is the colloquial word for ‘create’ and is largely used in Kenya’s urban settlements.

The main attraction of the event was a fun competition between 5 teams of artists who were tasked with creating art works out of re-usable items such as wood, metal, bottles and fabric in 50 hours. 

“We managed to get at least 3,500 people visiting the festival. The events went well with Friday having the largest turnout. We had 46 groups of performers, 37 exhibitors and 5 teams of artists who created various works of art for 50 hours during the festival. We are looking forward to and psyched up for Sondeka 2014,” says Liz Kimilii the founder of Creatives Garage

Hivos supports festivals and cultural spaces in the region in order to strengthen the cultural landscape, facilitate exchanges between artists and reach wider audiences.

“This was a ground-breaking event for not only Creatives Garage, but also for Hivos. It was a festival that was different. There were lots of learning opportunities on festival organising for the Creatives Garage and in future, I hope, we can give the organisers more exposure on how to run a festival. Furthermore, the festival also provided the businesses within the mall an opportunity to support the arts/creative industry, “says Greg Mwendwa, the Hivos Expression and Engagement Programme Officer.

For Hivos, festivals and cultural spaces provide an ideal platform for cultural expression, public debate and cultural exchange both nationally and internationally, while offering artists the opportunity to increase their income and distribute their creative products.

The Sondeka Arts Festival was also used to promote 50 years of Kenya’s independence, which will be celebrated on December 12.