Kenya Report 2019 …Reach the Unreachable
Sunshine International Arts (S.i.A) in collaboration Necessary Arts (N.A)
Ray Mahabir, 2019
As the Artistic Director of S.i.A, my main focus so far has been within Britain, as well as some international projects. I have spent the past 23 years taking carnival arts to new audiences, national and international, but one piece of the puzzle was missing! In 2018 I decided it was time to re-visit Caribbean carnival in it’s birthland – Trinidad and Tobago – but I could not ignore the roots and history it has in Africa (as well as Europe).
These three areas of the world make up what is known as the ‘Transatlantic Triangular Trade Route’. My idea was to reverse this route and educate the three continents in the Art of Carnival.
S.i.A is expanding it’s international partnerships; on the 11th May 2018 I met with Naima Thompson from N.A to discuss a collaboration with S.i.A on a new project based in Kenya/Africa and to look at potential projects in Trinidad and Tobago. These areas seemed like a natural progression for the company as the history of carnival and it’s primary narrative involved Africa and the Caribbean. Providing carnival projects in Kenya and Trinidad and Tobago brings carnival back to it’s roots.
In 2019 I visited Trinidad and Tobago. This was to expand and explore another new project there. I come from Trinidad, meaning there is already a strong link in the community there, and a good understanding of it’s needs. The purpose of this trip was to make contact, visit and build connections with organisations that are focusing on recycled art, as well as theatre and performance with children and young people. S.i.A is looking at ways to link the two through carnival workshops. We are also drawing attention to eco-friendly art as there is a considerable problem with pollution in Trinidad, Tobago and the Caribbean. S.i.A continues to use costume, storytelling and theatre in it’s projects with young people as we have seen first hand how these can empower them to think about and share their experience of the world.
S.i.A has since collaborated with Necessary Arts to set-up a Trinidadian ‘Mini Mas Camp’ and has delivered carnival workshops to children in the Bofa community in Kenya. The first stage of this was to offer young people in the community the chance to take part in their own Mas Camp and creative activities.
These new projects will be fully established by 2022. This will be achieved by biannual, alternating trips to both places (Kenya and Trinidad). With continued planning, programming and conversations taking place outside of these trips and throughout the year, laying the groundwork for continued international partnerships between S.i.A, Africa, Trinidad and Britain. You can follow my journey below…
What happened in 2019
Ray, Allyson and Maggie facilitated a workshop with the Jeho Community today at Pipeline Nairobi
The workshop looked at carnival, celebrations and the art of mask making. The children were asked to look at a memory of a celebrations that they were part of and to create a mask for this celebration.
Friday 26 April 2019 Day 1
Ray and Allyson arrived at Tulia the site of our Outreach Programme. They were welcomed by Furaha who facilitates the ongoing weekly programme with the group. Time was spent in a planning meeting where they looked at the daily activities over the next (3) days and formulated a detailed plan that would ensure the expected outcomes.
The morning began with thunderous skies and a massive downpour of rain at the scheduled arrival of the group. This delayed the start of the programme, Furaha decided to get a tuk tuk to go and collect the group
Introduction to “Mas Camp”
Building on the concept of environmental carnival arts, Ray had the area arranged in a mini mas camp, using recycled materials to create pieces. Mas is a Trinidadian word, an abbreviation of Masquerade. Mas Camp brings communities together, it’s a melting pot of creative flair in a multitude of artistic crafts: wire bending; headdress building; and costume decoration.
The sun rises on the last final day of mas camp in Kilifi. The day started with the decorating of drums using recycled materials with the early arrivals. The young people used papier-mâché as a way to mould the decorations.
As the sun set we waved goodbye to our Uber tuk tuk with our mas camp tables.
Our experience in Bofa Kilifi was a great one. The group were lively and interactive and fun to work with. The Kilifi team of Answari, Furaha, Zwadi, Simon and Kazungu were very supportive and we thank them. It was wonderful to be part of this project and we look forward to continuing the work.