Reopening The Baraza

Greetings, friends:

Happy new month! We reopened Baraza at the beginning of July, and we’ve been pleased to see many of you walk in, work from the space and re-engage with all that Baraza has to offer – in particular Semabox, our new podcast recording space in partnership with StudioTISA. We are open weekdays 10am-4pm, and are taking on new members – so please check out our membership page on our website, as well as more information on Semabox.

We also published a crucial piece by my friend and colleague j. Siguru Wahutu on our blog The Baraza Notebook, where he raised the critical question of who gets to speak in our news pieces, and why it is ever-more important for local media to figure out whom they really represent. The last paragraph of his article has stayed with me: “…the sad reality is that the Kenyan media industry cannot retrench its way around this current crisis; now is the time to listen to your audience and provide them with meaningful information rather than pointless political theatre.” Read it here.

On my part I’ve been caught up juggling the competing demands of work, family and surviving a global pandemic, and I’ve been inspired by the incredible work that Kenyan creatives are still putting together in this season. The Nest Collective this week launched a comic book series on Mekatilili wa Menza and Wangu wa Makeri, two formidable women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries whom we think we know but we actually don’t talk about enough, while our friends (and Baraza members) the LAM Sisterhood had a live, virtual encore performance on the stories of the comic book series – they had featured the two women in their Brazen theatre performance in 2018. If you missed out on the live show, you can catch up on the music inspiring the performance. Yours truly took to writing on how the comic book as an expressive form reminds me of maps (which I am obsessed with) and how the comic book, in my view is a kind of counter-cartography that centres people, whom imperialist narratives would rather see reduced and captured into the extractive logic of mapped territories and nation-states.

This collaboration where one creates, another builds, another analyses, and all enrich our collective expression, is the vision of Baraza Media Lab. Though this one emerged quite organically, we as Baraza are looking to do more structured collaborative programs/ projects of this nature, so reach out to us with your ideas – no matter how wild and ‘out there’ they may be!

Yours in solidarity,

Christine Mungai

Curator || Baraza Media Lab

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