Art, Activism and Public Space – with Boniface Mwangi in Dar es Salaam

Boniface Mwangi is a young artist and activist with a vision: a better tomorrow for each and every Kenyan.

Together with colleagues from the University of Dar es Salaam and Nafasi Art Space, Twaweza hosted Boniface in Tanzania from 19-22 November, 2014.

The organizer and mobilizer of many well-known protests in Kenya, Boniface Mwangi narrates his journey as having begun behind the flash of a camera, where he spent months as a photographer for the second largest newspaper in Kenya, The Standard. He saw the lives of many through the lens of his camera and for months published well credited photographs.

It came to a stop after witnessing the post-election violence of 2007. It was then that Boniface decided to quit active journalism and took up a stance to fight political and corporate impunity, as well as speaking out against bad and corrupt political leadership and promoting messages of peace for the elections that were due in 2013. Boniface won the both the 2008 and 2010 CNN Africa Photojournalist of the year Award, and he is well recognized for the Picha Mtaani Project and the Pawa 254 Initiative.   

Boniface’s visit to Dar es Salaam began with a lecture at the University of Dar es Salaam. He talked about the transformation he underwent from being a photographer to being a disillusioned young person to deciding that he needed to stand up and shout – becoming an activist. Boniface urged the students of UDSM to find their public voice – be it through art or other means – in order to strive to improve Tanzania. 

Boniface led a two-day workshop at the Nafasi Art Gallery in Dar es Salaam, coaching artists on how to use their passion and art as tools for activism and to bring change to all the elements of their society that they did not accept and didn’t have to endure. Those who attended included various artists in the field of photography, painting, spoken word poetry, singing and filming, as well as journalists. It was a hands-on workshop, engaging with the real problems and challenges of being an artist and activist.

Boniface exhibited a selection of his photographs at Nafasi, and explained where, how and why each photo had been taken. He shed more light into his work by answering questions, and without a doubt, created a lasting impressing in the hearts and souls of many of the possibilities of taking a stance, making change happen, here and now. 

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