On the morning of Friday 28th December Ife Piankhi was admitted to hospital in Uganda after a suspected stroke and bleeding on the brain. This is a very serious situation and condition. Hospital services in Uganda are NOT free so Ife and her family will need assistance with meeting those fees to make sure Ife gets the best care possible. The medical costs for Ife in the hospital have been set by the hospital at £12,000. This is an enormous amount of money that the family will not be able to achieve in such a short space of time. Every penny raised will go direct to the family in Uganda. Your generosity will be very much appreciated and blessed. ￼
As part of KLA Art Labs I was involved with 2 workshops. 1 dealing with deepening our observation skills and a collaboration with performance artist Mo Seira about engaging with performance art in public spaces.
Sometimes we resisted being directed, but it seems humans seek to be told what to do. We are comfortable with that. Making our own artistic discoveries is hard it seems. People have lost their agency and wait to be given permission by someone to do something, anything.
We entered the local chapati restaurant (The Comfort Zone) located in Kansanga. Alongside customers, chapati makers, waitresses, and various small children is a welder working with machinery. The tent has open sides and a blue roof, is very noisy and congested. Eventually the sound reduces but i don’t know if anyone noticed. People come and go and change positions. As part of the lab we are exploring how the general public engages with Art in public spaces.
The feminine fight club was born on the 6 th July 2016. In a kitchen two women grappled each other to
the ground where one sustained a twisted ankle. It had come as a shock, the burst of energy that
erupted from the younger woman. It was the first day of her period and she was feeling aggressive and
impatient with those around her. So when the older woman grabbed her in a playful headlock the
younger women fought her way out, twisting until both landed hard on the concrete floor. Immediately
I fill my mouth with it. Never mind that I am lactose intolerant and in a few hours my stomach will be gripping and bloated. I will release gases and hope I am not in the company of others. If I am, I will attempt to hold it in or release it without making a sound. Impossible.
Every other person in Kampala has ulcers. It is a national epidemic that is not on the radar of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It’s all HIV, Ebola and now the Zika Virus. We are under attack from new strains of bacteria which are now resistant to treatment because of the antibiotics our doctors prescribe like sweets. One of the unfortunate side effects of antibiotics is that they are not selective in choosing which bacteria to kill. All the good bacterial colonies in the gut die along with the bad. Doctors give you the pills in small envelopes with the name of the tablet (sometimes) and the numbers 1×1 or 3×1 written on them, to determine when and how many of these you should take. There are no instructions other than that. Maybe if the drug is particularly harsh on the stomach they would suggest taking them with food or liquids.
I’m coaching some of the child actors for a film being shot in Kampala called the Queen of Katwe. Its a success story about a Ugandan girl, Phiona Mutesi who learnt how to play chess and has since gone on to became the youngest African chess champion. Its a success story that we definately need because most of the people of the world still see Africa as the ‘dark continent’ full of hunger and disease. It is true we have those challenges but there are so many wonderful stories of people who have risen out of adversity to become highly successful people.
I’ve had a very hectic but inspiring week. I travelled to Lira for a Peace Camp where I facilitated and trained young people from all over Uganda and the US. Then leaving Lira by coach back to Entebbe for the ‘Layer Beneath’ Camp training young people in the Art of Facilitation.
On many occasions I felt I was in the Flow-the optimal experience of conciousness described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book of the same title.
Its been an truly amazing week, one I will never forget. It was made even more memorable because even though I was engaged mentally, physically and spiritually, I still managed to find the time to read Americanah the fantastic book by Chimamanda Adichie. I couldn’t put it down. In my real life I was moved as I witnessed the transformation of the youth I was working with, and then in my imagination I was stimulated by the characters of the book.
The Laba Art Festival has started planning early. We usually meet in January to begin planning for the event which happens in June but this year we had our first meeting in November 2014. I’m very excited about the concept of Back to Future for next years Laba 2015.
I’ve been involved with Laba for the last 3 years, providing activities for children with In Movement- Art for Social Change.
If not attending a camp I sit on the artists committee. Right now we are recruiting new members in order to keep the festival relevant to Ugandan artists. We welcome artists at the organisational level because we need to claim this festival as our own and make it work for not only us but our communities. East African festivals are on the rise and we need to be on the map here in Kampala. For me Laba is unique, totally different from Bayimba or KLA art because we seek for it to be interactive.
Today is my last day shooting the film: New Intentions by Kihire Kennedy (behind second left).
Kennedy asked me to act for him about 2 years ago. He sent me the script and I read the first 3 pages and then put it down., because you know people can talk about what they want to do creatively but often it doesn’t happen. Between then and now Kihire was nominated and won best student film ‘Hang Out’ and raised funds to shoot his 2nd feature.
I embarked on this project 2 weeks ago, learning lines and thinking about my character Mrs Magret Siki.
Being an immigrant means you don’t have to adhere to the stereotypes and prejudices of the natives. When I arrived in Uganda I knew nothing of its history. One of the realities of living in Africa is you realise that there is no ‘African’ Identity, instead there are many tribes who have their cultures and you better learn know how each nation does its thing.
As an African of the Diaspora this has been a rude awakening. As a student of Pan Africanism, Marcus Garvey and Rastafari, we are encouraged to return to the continent and to see Africa as ONE.
As a creative facilitator I get the opportunity to work with different organizations. Peace Corp, Pontentium Youth Centre, Memprow, Writing Our World, In Movement, United Youth Entertainment to name but a few.
For the last 2 weeks I’ve been working with Peace Corp Volunteers, training them and assisting in the delivery of their camps. Camp Lion (Leaders in our Nation} in Mbale focused on leadership. For me it was one of the best camps I have attended because the young people were given the opportunity to go out into the community and share the skills they were developing at Camp. We planted trees, visited an orphanage and hospital and cleaned the towns streets.