“Nafasi Art Space is important for artists and art lovers alike to meet, exchange ideas, and appreciate the beauty and importance of art in our daily lives” –Susan P. Mlawi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts, and Sports.
We’re almost there. 13 days of taking art everywhere are about to be followed by 7 more of the same before the SANAA YETU FESTIVAL, the climax to our month-long series of activities celebrating Nafasi’s 10 year anniversary. This is the story so far….
The event launched on the 11th September with a press conference in which two long serving artists, Mussa Sango and Mwandale Mwanyekwa, Nafasi Director Rebecca Corey and board member Sauda Simba offered a look back at Nafasi through the years and formally announced the dates of all the events that were planned in celebration, most of which were to take place outside of Nafasi as a way of engaging the public.
These events, or Public Art-reach programs, are the core of what Sanaa Yetu is about. Nafasi was founded upon a belief in the collective, and the capacity for collective endeavor to overcome challenges – daunting challenges, as the art world knows no other kind. It’s with that spirit that it has been to grow from a single hall housing eight artists to a thriving multidisciplinary space with 32 studios, a gallery, a children’s art area and a performance tent. And it’s that spirit that the Sanaa Yetu events were designed to reflect and share.
Public Art-Reach at Karume
The first of these Public Art reach programs took place the day following the press conference, on Wednesday the 12th September, when Nafasi artist Masoud Kibwana led a group of Nafasi artist that including Thobias Minzi, Lute Mwakisopile, Amani Abeid, Cloud Chatanda, Nathan Mpangala, Nicholas Calvin and Mussa Sango to Karume grounds for a day of live painting.
The tents where set up roadside next to market stalls in one of the busiest areas of the city; and not long after 10am, after the artists had set their stands and began to paint, the crowds began to swell as merchants, students, school children, fruit sellers, all took a moment from daily life to take in the art. Questions were asked in reflective tones about water-like strokes building efficiently at the bottom of Cloud’s canvas, and vertical stripes rising like colored light up the side of Amani’s, and the kitenge fabric ripped and stuck to the top of Lute’s or the ominous black cloud growing on the center of Nathan’s board. Masoud soon moved his stand closer to the corner he had already sketched for a better view of its color, as Mussa, looking up with hat held in place, judged the tint of blue he would need to mix to recreate the sky.
The crowds were further enlarged by the music, playing throughout courtesy of Nafasi’s performing arts manager and sometime DJ, Kwame Mchauru. He knelt to soda crates functioning as tables for the day to quieten the music. The center of the tent was cleared and drums put out one by one ready for Shine Dance to take the stage. They began slowly, marking out rhythm in measured steps, and then rapidly launched into the first of many meticulous traditional dances they would perform throughout the day.
Nafasi postcards and stickers were given out. Nafasi’s place on the local art scene was explained for those who were unfamiliar. Oranges were eaten by the dozen. While in between, in the rare moments in that space not given to art, music and the joy of these, staff edged their way into one of Nicholas Calvin’s photos for something beautiful by which to remember the day.
Art Cocktail at Slipway
There followed, two days later on Friday September 14th , a more formal, evening event, as work created at Karume was taken and displayed at the Slipway for an auction fundraiser. The event gathered together a number of those who have supported Nafasi’s mission and helped facilitated the growth that Sanaa Yetu is celebrating. In attendance were the Swiss Ambassador Florence Tinguely Mattli, Italian Ambassador Roberto Mengoni, CEO of NMB Ineke Bussemaker, Demere Kitunga, Executive Director of Soma Cafe, Hebert Makoye from Bagamoyo institute of Arts and Culture, and many more of our longtime friends and sponsors. The night was a chance for us to thank all those and more for their support and continue to build bridges between the art world and other industries.
“Nafasi Art Space is contributing to the development of art and culture in the country” said our guest of Honor for the evening , the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Susan P. Mlawi. “It is an independent, Tanzanian space where people have a sense of ownership and pride in their culture and identity”.
That pride was all on show all evening in the the shape of models dressed in a futurist fusion of tribal styles by Makeke, and scenes of street corners, vendors, card players, and fishermen rendered in a variety of styles on paintings spread around the floor. There was also a stirring dance by the Nantea Dance Company and memorable performances by Grace Matata, Isaac Abeneko and John Kitme. A big thanks once more for all those who came to support and to all the artists who keep making all of this possible.
World Cleanup Day
The following day, Saturday 15 September, the team woke bright and early for a clean-up at Coco beach. Ahead of them were 30 boards designed by Nafasi for our partners Nipe Fagio to urge people not to drop litter at the various sites chosen to be cleaned for World Clean-up Day. A group led by Artist Mussa Sango, Mwandale Mwanyekwa and Nathan Mpangala collected bags and gloves and joined the cause. There were aided by a diverse crowd of people, from sportsmen, university students, people young and old who had all come out to take part in the global event. A simple, fun and feel-good way to end the week.
Dialogue with BASATA (National Arts Council)
While Monday 17th September saw the team at the National Arts Council for Jukwaa la Sanaa, an art centered discussion in which Nafasi’s contribution to the art scene was evaluated and ideas for further collaboration shared and critiqued.
There is more to come from Sanaa Yetu. Stayed tuned for the story of our visit to Muhimbili hospital visit on 22 September and visits to Mgulani and Changombe primary schools on the 26th
Everything will then be wrapped up with the Sanaa Yetu Festival on the 29th of September where 10 years of art will be condensed into a single night of workshops, exhibitions and performance. YOU ARE ALL INVITED!