Nairobi hosts an eclectic community of artisans and craft workers. Last year’s NDW opened this topic with a video series on artisans (locally known as Jua Kali workers) from Kenya’s largest informal settlement, Kibera. This year we are aiming to connect artisans to a wider market and give their work an even bigger exposure. Moreover, as the main thematic of the 2016 Nairobi Design Week Festival, here is what is exciting about Jua Kali and the future for artisans in Kenya in the up coming year.
Jua Kali is a Swahili phrase that translates to the hot sun, consequently, the name can be considered as a nostalgia of the history, on how the community came about. Mostly it’s the men tinkering in the hot sun making just about anything useful, to be sold ‘affordable prices’. This time around we’ll show that Jua Kali and artisanry have developed as a perfect accompaniment to today’s design culture. They are the dawn of handmade craftsmanship experiencing a global renaissance. Undisputedly, today’s artisans have expanded on the products, styles and production methods available, with many becoming a product of their environment. One person’s waste is another’s opportunity to be grabbed. Jua Kali artisans concentrate on up-cycling and innovation that results to defined products which give them dividend for daily life.
Earlier this year Anne Lokidor, the Nairobi County executive for Education, Youth and Social Service, announced that the county will promote artisans’ skills and their products to make them recognised internationally. Ms Lokidor said that in the 2016/2017 financial year, the County government will engage local artisans to participate in product exhibitions that will enhance ease of accesses to global markets. Ms Lokidor also addressed unemployment problems facing Kenyan youth, she believes that, by promoting artisan talents and increase their economic capacity.
We can’t wait to see what’s next.