SWAN Day Kenya 2016 Builds Bridges & Connects Artists

“SWAN is the only space that brings peace and fun as we continue talking about our struggles. I organize a lot of political work . . . SWAN Day is different. After a SWAN Day event, one always feels energized , rejuvenated and complete. It’s a platform that brings its own kind of energy and healing.”
                                                              – Sophie Dowllar, Organizer of SWAN Day Kenya

SWAN Day Kenya 2016

An Art Exhibition & A Star-Studded Concert

SWAN Day Kenya 2016 will feature a three-day visual exhibition of art by 6 female artists at Kuona Trust Centre for the Visual Arts on March 23 – 25 followed by a concert at the Kenya Cultural Centre in Nairobi on Saturday night, March 26.  The concert will feature East Africa’s self-proclaimed “Queen of Rap” Pizo Dizo and other award-winning singers, such as Iddi AchiengLydiah Dola, Valentine ZikiCessa, Barbara Guantai, Gin Ideal, and Anouschka. (Click on the singers’ names to see sample music videos or Facebook pages.)

In this hit video, “Chali Stinji,” Pizo Dizo sings about her stingy boyfriend. Even if you don’t speak Swahili, you can tell she is describing an experience that many women have shared. 

The theme of this year’s event is “Building Bridges – Connecting Artists.” According to organizer Sophie Dowllar, SWAN Day Kenya has always been an event that has connected artists across barriers of class and age.  Talented young artists share the stage with established artists that they have only seen on national TV, and one of the sponsors is Grandpa Records, a popular record label in East and South Africa that often helps young female artists release their first singles.

“SWAN Day Kenya is about celebrating every woman artist,” says Dowllar, “All women in the arts can meet and mingle freely with one another.”

Promoting Peace

Click to Watch Lydiah Riria Dola's "Sisters in the March"

Click to watch Lydiah Dola’s “Sisters in the March”

The first SWAN Day Kenya was held in 2008, just after a disputed presidential election which led to post election violence.  The country was still under martial law, and the SWAN event was one of the first large post-election gatherings where diverse people joined together to celebrate.

This year the organizers are especially interested in building bridges because Kenya is heading into an election in 2017.  As a way of promoting peace and communication among various segments of the population, SWAN Day Kenya 2016 will include culinary artists from five different cultures as well as diverse musicians, visual artists, and craftspeople.

SWAN Day Kenya has had a committed team of sisters since their first SWAN Day in 2008.  They start working on their plans for the next SWAN Day immediately after Christmas. They also use their Facebook page to promote SWAN and women artists from other regions. Last year they helped women in Tanzania organize a SWAN event, and they have organized an African network of female artists on WhatsApp.  They often talk about organizing SWAN events more than once a year or setting up a women’s center where artists could meet regularly.

Helping the Girls of Kamukunji – Please Make A Gift!

Kamakunji-red-wThe organizers of SWAN Day Kenya want to help girls living in the slums of Kamukunji in Nairobi. For these girls, as for many girls and women living in poverty, menstrual pads are too expensive. This is a health problem because they improvise with unsanitary materials and get infections. It is also a serious educational problem, because they often stay home from school for three to five days every month out of shame.

There will be donation stations at SWAN Day Kenya where people can donate boxes of menstrual pads or they can donate money to the cause.

In honor of SWAN Day, WomenArts is collecting donations for the next week as well.  We will send donations that we receive before midnight PDT on Thursday, March 31, 2016 to the Mamma Africa Community Center in Nairobi, which is the non-profit fiscal sponsor of SWAN Day Kenya, so that they can purchase supplies for the girls. If you would like to help, you can make an online gift or you can mail a check to WomenArts, 1442A Walnut Street, Suite 67, Berkeley, CA 94709.

Gifts of any size will be greatly appreciated.  If you can make a gift of $5, $10 or more, please Donate Now>>

Learn More – Watch SWAN Day Kenya Videos on YouTube

You can find several videos from SWAN Day Kenya events in previous years on YouTube.  One of the best ones was for SWAN Day 2014.