Kawira Mwirichia was chosen by The Nest Collective as one of the up-and-coming talents shaping the creative worlds of today and tomorrow as part of our collaboration with creative network The Dots. Read more about the other artists here or read on to learn more about Kawira’s intriguing project.
In Nairobi, Kenya, there are two different art scenes, artist and activist Kawira Mwirichia explains. There is the so-called Masai market which draws on traditional crafts and tribal customs, and there is the contemporary art scene, of “people who are experimenting with other ways of expression.”
Kawira’s project, To Revolutionary Type Love, creates a dialogue between these two creative scenes, as she uses traditional east African khangas to celebrate LGBT turning points from around the world.
Khangas are cotton cloths which feature colourful patterns and Swahili sayings. They are very common in east African culture, everyday objects that also play a symbolic role. As Ndinda Kioko points out in her essay The Khanga is Present, the combination of text and image became a way for traditionally silenced groups to express themselves. “It matters what the khanga says,” she writes. It became a place for, “imagination: a place for rage, a place to contest social norms.”