Maasai Women Showcase Culture

Maasai women’s beadwork have helped them showcase their culture, empower local artisans, and earn a sustainable income for themselves.

Women like Christine Naanyu, Sintamei Noonkipa, and Togoyo Noormeshuki have specialized in creating a wide variety of handmade adornments at Sekenani Gate, Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

Each of their creations carries a unique blend of vibrant colours, intricate patterns, and culturally significant symbols that hold deep meaning for the Maasai community.

Drawing inspiration from their own Maasai roots, Naanyu diligently preserves the traditional art of beadwork, ensuring that each piece reflects the authenticity and historical significance of her culture.

Naanyu’s passion for passing on this ancient craft has led her to earn a sustainable income, which helps her meet her daily expenses and personal development.

Together, they meticulously craft each piece, ensuring that every detail is perfect. Such dedication and commitment to their craft have helped their work thrive.

Naanyu explains the different colours used in beadwork and their meaning, where red stands for bravery, unity, and blood. Red is the color of cow’s blood. Often a cow is slaughtered when the Maasai people meet, and therefore unity is associated with red.

White represents peace, purity, and health. The association with health comes from white cow’s milk, which the community drinks to stay healthy.

Blue represents energy and the sky. Rain falls from the blue sky, which provides water for the cattle.

Orange-Symbolizes hospitality. The association with cattle is that visitors are served cow’s milk from orange gourds.

Yellow-like orange also symbolizes hospitality. The animal skins on visitors’ beds are yellow.

Green symbolizes health and land; cattle graze on the green grass of the land.

Black represents the people and the struggles they must endure.

Each ornament bears unique symbols that convey messages of social status, marital status, age, and tribe affiliation. Naanyu creations have all these ornaments that explain their meanings.

On her part, Noormeshuki believes that beadwork is not just about making beautiful ornaments but also about preserving the cultural identity of Maasai land.

‘Each symbol and design carry a story, a connection to our heritage. It’s important to keep our traditions alive.’ Noormeshuki adds.

Noormeshuki said the Maasai people have a deep appreciation for these intricate adornments, as they play a significant role in their rituals, ceremonies, and everyday lives.

According to Noonkipa, when women get married, a special wedding collar is made for them by their mothers and represents the whole of their village.

Traditional wedding collars have several beaded strands hanging off the collar, representing the dowry in cows that will be given to the bride’s family.

Although these collars are reserved for the wedding day, women will wear similarly layered collars in everyday life and in ceremonies as a sign of wealth and beauty.

Maasai women make beaded necklaces worn by both men and women as a symbol of beauty. They also make beaded belts made from leather and adorned with intricate beadwork.

They also make beaded earrings worn as a fashion accessory in various colours and designs, beaded anklets that are used by dancers, and beaded batons that are used by leaders.

Through the State Department for Culture and Heritage, the locals were hopeful that the documentation and digitalization of indigenous knowledge and associated assets programme, would help them preserve culture.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Permanent Exhibition Depicting Construction Art of Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches Opened

A permanent exhibition that shows the construction art of the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela was opened in Lalibela town today.

The exhibition organized under the theme “Lalibela Built by Faith” is expected to have a great value in extending the stay of visitors in the historical town. A “Sustainable Lalibela” project, which is being implemented with the the financial support of the French Development Agency since March 2021 to preserve Ethiopian cultural heritage, is also underway in Lalibela town.

The opening ceremony of the permanent exhibition was attended by senior federal and regional government officials, including Tourism State Minister Sileshi Girma, representatives of the French Embassy and the French Development Agency.

The five-year “Sustainable Lalibela” project with the support of the French government has been executed by the maintenance of the historical heritage of Lalibela and the heritage development of the city of Lalibela. An exhibition, which explored the entire history of the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela and heritages through photo and virtual technology, was displayed for 2 months in Addis Ababa starting from September 2022.

At the time, senior government officials including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and others visited the exhibition.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Young Artists Using Talents To Make A Living

Art is a form of expression by human beings in a skillful way that entails creativity through the use of music, sculpture, painting, drawing, and many more.

Just like any other area of modern life, art has evolved over time, with the earliest forms of art dating back to over 40,000 years ago, according to archaeologists.

In the current generation, many young people are engaged in artistic work either as a hobby or on a commercial scale in order to earn a living.

According to a report by the Kenya Federation of Employers, approximately one million youths enter the labour market every year with no skills or college education, with the youth unemployment rate standing at 67 per cent. The report indicates that nearly three million young people are not engaged in any form of employment.

The high crime rate has been attributed to a lack of jobs, leading the youth to resort to other means to survive, but some have also taken matters into their own hands and decided to go into self-employment, with some taking up art as a form of employment to make ends meet.

It’s for this reason that the government, through the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Arts, and Sports, launched the Talanta Hela project in February this year, which is a flagship plan to monetise talents in sports and the creative industry.

The project is in line with the government’s bottom-up economic transformation agenda and aims to identify, recruit, nurture, market, and monetise talent.

The project is also set to work with the education system to identify schools that will act as academies and nurture certain sports and other talents.

According to the Draft 2023 Budget Policy Statement released in January this year, the Talanta Hela project is in line with President William Ruto’s commitment to the bottom-up approach toward the growth of football and other sports and talents at the grassroots level.

Meet Raymond Dudi, 27, who has decided to use his talent to make a living. He explains that his talent in drawing has given him a new lease of life and has enabled him to meet his daily needs just by exerting his creative mind.

Dudi, who also goes by the nickname Kashfa in the artistic world, says that he has been doing art for the last six years, and he does not regret any bit of it.

We meet him in his infinity studios located in the Kayole area of Naivasha, where he is currently working on several pieces of art drawings on canvas. He explains that his journey as an artist was motivated by the urge to be independent and self-employed after he discovered while in primary school that he had a talent in this area.

According to Dudi, art has enabled him to avoid indulging in alcohol and substance abuse as he spends most of his time drawing and painting. He says that the majority of his former friends who engaged in vices such as drug abuse and crime due to their joblessness have ended up ruining their lives, despite some having attained college education.

Dudi, a graduate from the school of fine arts at Kenyatta University, adds that apart from doing canvas drawing and graffiti, he also engages in painting, which forms the bulk of his work because of the ease of availability of such jobs. With many structures coming up, demand for painters is huge, and this has prompted him to tap into the opportunity, which has greatly boosted his venture.

On a good month, Dudi earns an average of Sh50,000, which enables him to foot his bills with plans to expand his art studio through savings from the proceeds of his talent.

David Muchiri, alias Wes, Dudi’s partner at Infinity Studios, which was launched in 2021, explains that this was the best decision they ever made to venture into art. Muchiri tells us that as a result of many youths being idle in the neighbourhood, they took it upon themselves to train talented individuals who are interested in learning the art of drawing and painting.

He adds that the programme does not only entail training but also market linkages, where they go with the trainees to the field and help them learn practically while creating connections for job opportunities through exposure to potential clientele.

The duo, early in the year, in collaboration with the “rangi za east” festival, started a beautification project within Kayole that involved graphite drawings on walls and apartments within the estate. This project, according to Wes, was an eye-opener to aspiring artists from the area who have been thronging their studio in order to learn more about art.

He adds that the project increased the visibility of their brand, opening more doors of opportunities. Muchiri goes further to highlight the achievements they have had so far since their clientele base stretches far and wide, beyond Naivasha.

Infinity Studios has been privileged to trade their craft in major places in the country; as Kashfa reveals, they are behind the amazing graffiti and paint works at Uhuru Gardens and the United Nations (UN) official residence in Runda, Nairobi.

However, each success story comes with its fair share of challenges. Among the obstacles that the duo face on a daily basis is the high cost of paint, which they urge the government to look into in order to increase their profit margins at the end of the day.

Muchiri urges more youth to join the art sector as it creates jobs instead of relying on white collar opportunities, which are limited. He acknowledges that art is a male-dominated space, calling upon more women to venture into the industry.

Source: Kenya News Agency

More Efforts must be Exerted to Modernize Agricultural Development in Ethiopia: DPM, FM Demeke

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen underlined the need for more efforts to modernize Ethiopia’s agricultural development activities with a view to strengthening the overall economy of the country.

Demeke made the remark at the opening of a panel discussion held on the margins of the Agriculture and Science exhibition inaugurated today at the Science Museum in Addis Ababa under the theme “From the Lab to the Field.”

Noting that agriculture is the main economic source of the country and the backbone of other sectors as well, Demeke said the government has given the highest priority to accelerate the sector.

According to him, a lot of encouraging achievements have been registered in the sector due to the efforts being made over the past years.

The agricultural development activities in the lowland areas of the country are a very good testament to which the agriculture sector can be improved as long as the necessary efforts are made, he said.

Hence, he stressed the need to change the old ways of agricultural development activities by mechanizing and transforming the sector through the utilization of necessary technologies.

Demeke further stated that efforts will be made to replicate the encouraging successes being registered in the productivity of wheat on other crops too.

Minister of Agriculture, Girma Amente for his part said the government has been carrying out several efforts to expand agricultural mechanization citing the efforts made to import agricultural equipment free of duty.

The Agriculture and Science exhibition, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with Ethio Telecom, aims at promoting the role of technologies in transforming the agricultural sector and improving production and productivity in a sustainable manner.

The exhibition is expected to create awareness among farmers and pastoralists, youth, students, researchers as well as investors on the role of science and technology to improve production and productivity and realize sustainable development.

Agriculture and Science exhibition will be open for public viewing for consecutive weeks starting tomorrow.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Cuanza Corridor, Semba music raised to historical and cultural heritage

The Cuanza Corridor and Semba music style were recently elevated to national historic and cultural heritage.

This was confirmed by minister of Culture and Tourism Filipe Zau on Tuesday in Luanda.

Filipe Zau was addressing an opening session of the round table, with topic: protection of cultural, material and immaterial heritage of Angola, ahead of International Day for Monuments and Sites, celebrated on April 18.

The minister also quoted the Dikanza (musical instrument) and Bessangana (traditional costume in Luanda province), as being also elevated to historical and cultural heritage.

According to him, such an heritage makes Angola pride of preserving a variety of cultural assets that represent one of the greatest cultural and human riches of any society.

In 1982, UNESCO’s General Conference established 18 April as the International Day for Monuments and Sites.

Angola has more than 278 classified monuments and sites.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

THE MINISTRY FOR THE NATIONAL HERITAGE, THE ARTS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT Historical documents and research donated to the National Archives by Henry Frendo

Professor Henry Frendo donated a significant number of historical documents and other records related to his research into the history of Malta to the National Archives. These records include notes, interviews, research papers, photos and audio-recordings mainly related to the history of Malta during the last 200 hundred years.

During an official event, the Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government Owen Bonnici thanked Professor Henry Frendo for donating this work which will contribute to a better understanding of our cultural patrimony and history. He also thanked the staff at the National Archives, led by Dr Charles Farrugia, for the great work and dedication they have towards the living history of Malta.

The National Archivist, Dr Charles Farrugia, also thanked Prof Frendo for his donation. “This donation will enrich the National Archives and will address some areas where our holdings are currently silent. The next step will be the cataloguing of this collection so that it will be available to our researchers,” said Dr Farrugia.

Prof Frendo is a professor of modern history at the University of Malta. His main areas of research include imperialism, nationalism, decolonization, postcolonialism, journalism, migration and ethnicity in Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean as well as the Middle East and North Africa. Previously he has worked with the UNHCR, stationed in Switzerland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Papua New Guinea.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister