Wednesday, 13 December 2017



By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted December 13, 2017)
                            Abdul Patient, DOP and Amina Rwimo, director of 'It has killed my mother'/ Photo by Margaretta

Since 1991, Kenya has been home to increasing numbers of refugees from all round East Africa.
Prior to that time, Kenya hosted refugees mainly from Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia but they stayed in urban areas, not in camps.
But from ’91, camps like Kakuma and Dadaab were opened. And since then, generations of refugees have been born, despite the camps supposedly established to serve as temporary abodes. Refugees were only meant to stay briefly or until peace had been restored in their respective countries.
       Panelists on 'Art and Migration' Panel at Kobo Gallery, Nairobi (L-R) Melvin Alusa, Victor Ndula, Abdul Patient,                                                            Betty Seise Bagbo, Oscar Muriuki and Peter  Mudamba Mudamba)

So since peace hasn’t come quickly to Somalia, Sudan or Burundi, agencies like UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have had to play herculean roles in assisting more than half a million refugees.
Fortunately, agencies like FilmAid have realized there is vast untapped artistic potential in the camps just waiting to be developed.
Proof of that creative capacity was confirmed this past Monday when at Kobo Gallery, the artistic talents of a number of camp- and urban-based refugees were shown.
Thanks to training designed by FilmAid and supported by a range of agencies, including UNHCR, IOM, GIZ, UN Information Centre and Amnesty International, a brand new crop of refugee filmmakers and cartoonists have been born.
“We don’t need to be called ‘refugee’ filmmakers anymore,” says Abdul Patient, the director of photography (DOP) for the award-winning film “It has killed my mother,’ directed and scripted by Amina Rwimo.
                                                           Panelists Melvin Alusa, Victor Nula and Abdul Patient.

Both Amina an Abdul confirmed their new status as filmmakers this year after being trained by FilmAid and making their 24 minutes film.
A number of refugees from Kakuma, Dadaab and Nairobi took part in the training and also produced short films. But it is only Amina’s and Abdul’s that was selected to be part of the Second IOM Global Migration Festival.
The first Migration Festival screened films in 89 countries so it is quite likely that their film will be seen in just as many places. It’s beautifully filmed cinematically, and the story itself, while apparently being a love story, also has a deeper and more poignant message, about FGM.
But FilmAid also involved Kenyan cartoonist Victor Ndula in training refugee artists who are currently in the process of writing and illustrating stories about refugee life.
                                  Cartoonist Victor Ndula is assisting refugee artists in creating their graphic novel.

Ultimately, they’ll produce a graphic novel, illustrating refugees’ lives expressed from the perspective of refugees themselves.
                                               One page from the Refugee Artists' Graphic Novel

“This is the ultimate goal of our program,” says Aroji Otieno. “It’s to enable refugees to tell their own stories, not to have outsiders telling them in their stead.”  

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