Wajukuu Art Project

Wajukuu Art Project is a community-based organization situated in the Lunga-Lunga neighborhood of the Mukuru slum in Nairobi.

The photo shows African children around 10 years old. The girl in the middle is looking into the camera, she has blond-red dyed rasta braids and holds a sign with the inscription

Wajukuu Art Project, Slum Art Festival, Wajukuu, 2018, Photo: Shabu Mwangi

The project was established in 2004 by a group of artists with a common goal: to make Mukuru a place where children can thrive and to create employment through the production and sale of quality artworks.

Mukuru slum sits on a hillside below the factories that make up the industrial area of Nairobi. A nearby dumpsite draws youth from the slum, who are largely shut out from employment in the factories that pollute their community. Scavenging for items to sell is one of the few economic opportunities available to them. Many eventually turn to crime and selling drugs. Violence and sexual assault are all too common, jeopardizing their well-being and claiming the lives of many young victims. From this landscape, Wajukuu emerged, a testimony to the resilience and capacity of people to transmute suffering into beauty.

Art forms the backbone of Wajukuu. It is understood not just as a practice but a way of life. Through art classes, Wajukuu empowers children and youth to  cope with daily challenges, and speak out against injustices imposed on them. A community library, the first in Mukuru, provides a safe space for students and adults to study. Documentary screenings and mural painting address various topics such as conflict resolution, crime prevention, culture practices, gender equality, health, teen pregnancy, and youth decision-making. This way, Wajukuu creates a platform for the community to fully participate in the issues affecting them.

Killing Fear of the Unknown, the collective’s contribution to the exhibition, is an architectural installation at documenta Halle, inspired by the Maasai Manyatta (traditional housing for the Maasai People of East Africa) and the informal aesthetics in the slums. Visitors enter a tunnel to experience multimedia expressions by Wajukuu-affiliated artists. Apart from a documentary, Wajukuu presents delicately refined objects, including a sculpture of a pedaled knife sharpener.

Wajukuu’s participation in documenta fifteen culminates in a sustainability project, in which the collective will secure a permanent project space, financially empower members, and share insight and techniques in woodwork workshops. Wajukuu’s project anchors on conservation and reinvention of cultural heritage, both aspects evident in a folklore publication collaborating with senior storytellers and a site-specific intervention.

Wajukuu Art Project’s website

 

Invited participants

Alexis Teyie
Arts Taste Curiocity (at&c Nairobi)
Becki Waweru
Blackink Films
Charles Muthumbi Githinji
Daniel Ondieki
Dauti Kahora
Emmaus Kimani
Eric Gitonga Mong’orion
Fedaa Sultan

Freshia  Njeri
Joseph Waweru
Joseph Ndung’u
Josphat Kimathi
Kimani Kinyanjui
Lawrence (Shabu) Mwangi
Lazarus Tumbuti
Lewis Kimone
Mercy Wambui
Ngugi Waweru

Paul Irungu
Peter Achayo
Rose Jepkorir
Sitawa Namwale
Victor Chege Gatugi
Wambui Ngombo
Wambui Ngombo
Yong Sun Gulach

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