Nafasi Academy Feel Free & Incubation Grants

Nafasi Academy 2021 programme on Curatorial Practice and Arts Management was for 6 months with 13 participants who took part in four training and professional development modules (The Curator & the Self, Curator in Space and Time, Curator & the Artist, and Curator & the Audience) and work placements with Grantees of Nafasi’s FEEL FREE programme and other Art spaces in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Stone Town, Zanzibar.

At the end of their Academy experience, all of the students got a chance to take part in a pitch competition to a panel of expert Donors, Arts Managers and Collaborators from the Tanzanian arts and culture sector. Four of the pitches were selected to receive incubation grants of 2 million TZS each ($870 USD) that aim to support these passionate arts workers to pilot their projects on a small scale, implemented between October – December 2021. The grant programme is managed by another of the Academy Curatorial and Arts Management graduates, Rhoda Kambenga.

The Academy Incubation Grants are made possible thanks to project and core funding from the Swiss Embassy in Tanzania and Nafasi’s core support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania.

Please find out more about each of the grantees below:


Haikaeli Gilliard is a pharmacist and curator – or you can address her as a Creative Health practitioner. She is also the founder of Balcony Series, a platform dedicated to creating edutainment content and events for the community paying homage to the culture of learning and togetherness upheld at vibarazas /verandas among other physical spaces that serve the same function.

Most recently, they are working on Mwanahiti film documentary, which explores the fertility doll, Mwanahiti, used by the zaramo, zigua, kwere and other matrilineal ethnic groups in Tanzania. This film is part of Balcony Series’ Art and Health project which explores the artistic practices that were used by traditional Tanzania communities to communicate health information and create local solutions to health related issues.


Mwanahiti is short documentary project focusing on the fertility doll, Mwanahiti, used by the zaramo, zigua, kwere and other matrilineal ethnic groups in Tanzania.The word Mwanahiti translates to ‘a child made of wood’. The doll, together with other rituals and symbolic objects has been used to initiate young girls into womanhood; mostly grandmothers or aunties are key players in keeping this tradition.

The aim of this documentary is to explore and interrogate the practice of Mwanahiti as it relates to reproductive health. Specifically exploring how the knowledge systems associate with the practice in the process of coming of age and their relevance to today’s context.

To accomplish this project, Haika is collaborating with Picha Time, a platform dedicated to celebrating African stories and culture. Working closely with filmmaker Nicholas Calvin and Victor John, a sound expert, Haika looks forward to presenting the results of their filmed interviews in Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo.

You can watch the film at NAFASI ART SPACE on  11TH DECEMBER at 6PM as a part of the NEW SHAPES exhibition.



Upendo is a curator based in Tanzania, she has curated various events and workshops including Uani, community gathering for creating dialogues and events centered around GBV, women and peace related topics.She’s devoted in building brand to empower women through art. Her experience is passionately pursuing opportunities that center and alleviate women. She incorporates her artistic voice through poetry,craft and fashion, in her practice which is now expanding through curation and arts management. She is inspired by colors, fabrics with her vibrant fashion sense is expressed with passion for art. Overall, Upendo always invites us to explore within and outwardly to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.


Contemporary Craft is a project that seeks to bridge the gap between form and function in Swahili culture.
Craft work is essential part of our traditional Swahili culture yet is not valued nearly as high as contemporary art produced in the Region

Contemporary craft is a socially conscious brand that supports local women crafters who are victims and survivors of GBV and contemporary artists, to produce their works and promote to the wider audience. Through the project Form and Function, I shall showcase creativity and tools through integrating craft and contemporary works to the result of unique art.

Contemporary Craft aims to deliver a curatorial intervention pairing Swahili craft workers/ artisans with contemporary Tanzanian artists in dialogue through their work. By facilitating this connection, we hope to bridge the gap between contemporary practice and our traditional roots — helping artists to identify with their roots and the root of arts in Tanzania and elevating the relevance of craft work within the contemporary art field.

The project invites participants and the public to the context of form and function to learn more about contemporary craft and creativity in Tanzania.

The exhibition will take place at NAFASI ART SPACE on 10TH DECEMBER 2021 at 6PM as a part of the Nawaza Nini? Exhibition at Sauti Mpya Festival.


Hassan Kisamo (b. 1995) is an interdisciplinary artist born in Dodoma and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Kisamo graduated with a Civil Drafting certificate from VETA RVTSC in Changombe, Dar es Salaam in 2019. He is currently a Director at Studio DARCH, a Dar es Salaam Architecture studio for design, photography, urbanism and research at Old Boma.

Kisamo is a self taught photographer. He has had 2 solo exhibitions about an ongoing exploration of Swahili coast; PastelDAR which debuted in November 23 2019 followed by a second installment PastelDAR Pers[ective at Alliance Francaise. He has also been a part of several group exhibitions namely Otherworldly, A Bad Idea, Zanzibar Visual Arts Festival and Sports and Urban Life in Dar es Salaam.

In 2018, He founded Tropic Legacy Skateboards, a brand aimed to supply skateboarding equipment to the local community. He is also a co-founder and member of the Tanzania Skateboarding Organisation.


PastelDAR: A look into Dar es Salaam built history and Street Life

PastelDAR is a series of photographs showcasing the cross section of urban street life in historical Swahili coastal towns of Stone Town, Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, documenting it’s populous street culture and its architectural heritage. An ongoing exploration and social documentary of the Swahili coast, and photography as a means of accommodating shifting social dynamics in contrast to the rapid expansion and development in Tanzania.

PastelDAR: A look into Dar es Salaam built history and Street Life is a collaborative project involving different artists from different mediums like illustration, painting, photography and architecture reacting to the street life in the city of Dar es Salaam and how we can preserve, promote and protect our urban heritage through inspiring young photojournalists and artists based in Dar es Salaam. PastelDAR project aims to extend this concern to a wider audience through photojournalism by documenting the city’s historical architecture and its urban cultural landscape.

The exhibition will take place at DAR ES SALAAM CENTER FOR ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE, SOKOINE DRIVE on 30th NOVEMBER  2021 at 6:30 PM – 9 PM.


Pius Matunge is a curator and art manager at Yajue Mazingira(Mazi) an Eco tourism initiative and Executive Director of Tengeneza Generation (TEG) with 6 years of experience in the eco-business and sustainable development sector. He has collaborated with organizations such as EAMCEF, Swiss Contacts, Embassy of France in Tanzania, UNDP Tanzania,The Drum, Raleigh International Tanzania and Morogoro region office.

He has overseen the design and implementation of Mazi by collaborating with artists, especially nature photographers, Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS), Mkingu ,Uluguru nature and forest reserves, Nafasi Art Space. Currently overseeing the establishment of a hub for artists that aim to foster connection between art and nature in Morogoro region. If you present a plate of Pilau to him the answer is always a YES with a smile.


Luguru or Waluguru are bantu speaking people living in theUluguru mountains in Morogoro and coastal plains of east-central Tanzania, made up of 52 tribes. Mazi Residency, situated in Choma village, offers a chance for artists to explore the scenic views of the Uluguru mountains, forests and rich culture of its community.

Davie Masanja, a photographer, was selected for Manzi’s inaugural residency.As part of his residency, he explored a traditional luguru food called “gate” (pronounced “ gah-tey” ) which translates to banana bread. It was famously used as a long-distance travel food by waluguru when they traveled from Morogoro to the Pwani region where they would buy salt. Wrapped in banana leaves, Gate could stay fresh for more than 14 days which earned it another place as a main food during tribal conflicts.

In this exhibition, we will explore a body of photos that explains the process of making Gate. The photos were documented in a span of a week where David lived and interacted with the luguru community.

During his stay we visited homestay families’ farms which are organic farms to harvest bananas, cassava and vegetables. The familiarity taught us how to cook Waluguru cuisine. They still practice organic farming to date as a method to protect and preserve their natural motherland.

The experience was organized by Pius Matunge who is a curator and environmentalist dedicated to telling stories of nature and its people. His passion has been conserving the natural forests. Through this he works with artists, cultural organizations and communities adjacent to reserves to tell stories of forests and educate the general public about the importance of art and nature.

The online exhibition will take place on Instagram page @yajuemazingira on 7TH DECEMBER 2021



Rhoda is a Curator and Arts Manager working at Nafasi Art Space, Tanzania. Growing up in a diverse neighborhood, she was interested in learning different cultures from her interactions. In her curatorial interventions, she is interested in exploring Tanzania culture using participatory approaches.



What does freedom look and feel like within the creative sector? Freedom is to be able to identify and accept your roots, rewriting our stories to be sung in our own tongues, celebrating our heritage.

These four pilot projects reflect on our rich history, culture and traditional practices that are sometimes overlooked or seen as inferior. Through careful curation you are invited to FEEL FREE to converse with these bodies of work, as there’s so much to learn, question, act, and share – and now is the time!