This September, Wanja Laiboni will travel throughout Kenya, with a professional photographer, documenting and studying Kenya’s diverse traditional crafts.She aims to collect the stories behind the crafts, the inspiration for their colors and symbols, and the materials and techniques used. The objective is to cover as much ground as possible, ensuring that the wealth of Kenya’s crafts is captured in images and words since the accelerating pace of urbanization and global cultural exchanges – that could potentially erode local cultures – indicates a clear and urgent need for preservation. The final project delivery is a professionally designed, digital compilation of Kenya’s crafts.
I believe that preservation needn’t be a long and bureaucratic process, and that preservation and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, I see the best kind of preservation as being one that transforms culture in its raw form into cultural symbols, products and images that remain present in our everyday lives, as opposed to living in documents in dusty archives that few have access to.
– Wanja Laiboni
Wanja has launched a fundraising campaign at Indiegogo and M-Changa (Kenyan equivalent of Indiegogo). Crafting Kenya now has a team of 7 people based in Kenya, Italy and France. To learn more about her and the impetus behind the project, watch the video below.
One of my favorite aspects of this project is Wanja’s commitment to ensuring the photographs and the information gathered is beneficial to the general public. As such, the final project delivery will also be availed to Kenyan university students in relevant fields of study, National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Tourism Board. She also plans to organise a public photography exhibition at Nairobi National Museum, or other Nairobi-based cultural institutions, at the end of 2014 or early 2015.
You can also follow Crafting Kenya on Facebook.