The Ali Hassan Joho-led Mombasa County Government unveiled a new initiative in which it teamed up with artists from around the county to create stunning street art intended to get people's attention and raise awareness on the Covid-19.
Images of murals on walls in Mombasa's Buxton area began being widely circulated on social media on Thursday, April 23.
Kenyans.co.ke caught up with the county's acting Chief Officer in the Department of Tourism, Asha Abdi, to shed more light on the origins of the project, it's future, Joho's role in it as well as more on the county's response to the pandemic.Mombasa County Acting Tourism Chief Officer Asha Abdi (centre) inspects a project at Tononoka Grounds, Mombasa on March 14, 2020
Joho's administration has earned plaudits for its proactive response which has included a collaborative approach involving the national government, religious leaders, civil society and regular citizens among others.
The street art project, Asha revealed, was part of the county's long-term plan to promote tourism and brand the county appropriately and had actually started around six months ago in the Old Town area.
The Covid-19 pandemic, however, inspired the idea to have youth and artists from Mombasa contribute to the efforts to combat the pandemic through art.
"We've been using various platforms including radio interviews and press conferences to communicate to the public. You've seen the Governor at the forefront as we try to flatten the curve here in Mombasa.
"But with the pandemic we thought, other than doing these pressers and radio interviews, we can partner with local youth to communicate various messages through art. There's a special way you can communicate through art.
"For example in one piece they showed about care and communities, showing the need to care for each other. Another piece shows how we are working together to fight this, you see the governor, a police officer, religious leaders and citizens," she noted.
She revealed that the decision to begin with Buxton was strategic, explaining that they were targeting places that could easily be seen so as to easily draw attention and raise awareness on precautionary measures and the pandemic in general.
"We started with Buxton because it is very accessible to the public. All the onlookers moving between Nyali and the mainland are able to see it. The artists are communicating various different messages but the priority right now is educating the people.
"We'll be doing them in public areas, like on the bridges where they can easily be seen by everyone moving around," she noted.
Asha further disclosed that, in addition to gaining a platform to showcase their work, the artists were being adequately compensated.
"The governor has been leading from the front but he's been taking a very collaborative approach. This is just an extension of that because now we are bringing in youth and artists who feel a sense of ownership and responsibility.
"What artists in Mombasa have always been asking us for is a platform to showcase their talents, we are giving them that platform but of course we are also compensating them for their time," she confirmed.
The Chief Officer also spoke on how the county was innovating in response to the pandemic so as to take care of its people and curb the spread of the virus.
"There's a lot going on but for instance, there's the nutrition program which seeks to feed 227,000 families.
"As a county, we have already developed an application through the ICT department that has allowed us to map out all these beneficiaries. We are making deliveries of the food packages door to door to ensure there is no chaos.
"We have also launched an online portal through a partnership with the private sector. It's an online funds drive where we've made all the payment platforms accessible so that anyone who wants to contribute can do so at any time. The money donated will go towards purchasing food for households and improving the medical preparedness," she explained.
On the response to the art in Buxton, Asha revealed that it had been overwhelming but it was only the beginning.
"The reaction is overwhelming to an extent so we feel we are getting what we wanted in terms of raising awareness.
"Even two or three days ago when it was still a work in progress in Buxton, you could see people impressed, taking time to explore and analyse the art," she stated.
Sample some of the art below:An art piece pictured in Buxton, Mombasa on April, 23, 2020An art piece commissioned by the Mombasa County Government pictured in Buxton, Mombasa on April, 23, 2020An art piece commissioned by the Mombasa County Government pictured in Buxton, Mombasa on April, 23, 2020
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