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.
I would say In Movement is at the fore front of interactive workshops for children in Uganda and it is always a highlight of our calendar to be represented there. This year I want to connect with the festival as an artist, connector and capacity builder. Last year we had our first artists workshops to help artists visualise how their art could meaningfully address the concept of ‘ the city is our space’. The feedback was good and I look forward to doing it again with the theme for next year. I feel it was a vital intervention in the stimulation of their creativity and approach to the theme.
I’m in Dar es Salaam at the moment waiting to travel to Bagamoyo for the Karibu Live Music Festival, so I have the time to research the concept. According to Ytasha Womack, Afro futurism is the intersection between black culture, technology, liberation and the imagination, sometimes with mysticism thrown in. I’m interested in stories, imagery, fashion, music. As a poet I’m interested in how we can create a bridge between the future and the past. What will we hold on to? What will we let go of? How will we determine what is obsolete or useful?
I’m also interested in how Afro futurism can explore concepts of femininity and womanhood especially as I find modern African men to be quite patriarchal and the concepts of what makes an African Woman quite restrictive and limiting. Were my fore mothers more liberated? How do we want to relate now as man and woman?
My desire for Laba 2015 is that Ugandan artist explore the theme and allow themselves to get fantastical. Ugandans are very proud of their nation, tribes and culture, but sometimes I feel we are not evolving beyond these categories. Is there anything else to being an African in the 21st century? As the world becomes smaller and smaller through the use of the internet, our access to other cultures allows us to become a hybrid of influences, creating new identities or maybe that’s the question: Are we becoming something else as Africans? Is there such a thing as an African (according to Makadem, there isn’t) Who are we?
Its exciting that next year will be the 9th year of Laba, according to my cosmology 9 is the supreme number. The combination of all elements which created life in the universe. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding of self was the highest aspiration for my ancestors, I’m hoping we can continue this tradition of self exploration and look forward to some interesting conversations on the theme of AFRO FUTURISM- Back to the Future.