Contact Zones NRB 16: Maasai Mbili

Volume 16 of the Contact Zones NRB series feature the work of the artist’s collective Maasai Mbili (M2). Founded in the early 2000s by Otieno Kota and Otieno Gomba, the collective now consists of five permanent members, several long-term partners, many, many associates and almost infinite friends.

The artistic practice of the collective is rooted in sign-painting and street art but can express itself in forms ranging from video, to performance, to music, to dance. Hence, whilst there is a specific skill and craft at the heart of the collective; popular painting, there is a parallel dedication to both a conceptually-refined approach, and a sociopolitical perspective.

From the Daily Kibera series of Kevo Stero, to the Vote for Mai Self paintings of Otieno Gomba, to the appropriated election posters of the late Ashif and the fictitious political rapper Million Bob of Tola, the broad spectrum of works that the collective produces is bound together by an insight and criticality on contemporary social and political issues, rendered in a popular, ironic and intelligent language.

The book includes essays by Thom Ogonga, Gor Soudan, Alex Nikolic, Mbuthia Maina, Hans Bernhard and an interview by Sam Hopkins.
Language: English, Sheng
Pages: 152
Year of Publication: 2015
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence

Contact Zones NRB 15: Joyce Nyairo – Kenya@50. Trends, Identities and the Politics of Belonging

Kenya@50 is a book about the intersection of culture, identity and politics over the fifty years of Kenya’s independence. It tries to answer questions about how the state defines individuals and the means by which individuals shape their own sense of belonging. Joyce Nyairo rummages through a vast corpus of cultural productions to find the evidence for her claims—court cases, Soap operas, songs, obituaries, matatu slogans, NGOlingo, SMSs, emails, Tweets and the longer, autobiographical stories that Kenyans write about the people that they think they are. Some of her arguments about the Constitution of Kenya 2010 are decidedly radical. But her observations of the everyday ways and places in which Kenyans define themselves force one to think through the complex relationship between the Constitution and culture. Joyce Nyairo's work reflects a deep concern for Kenya and Kenyans, but it is also not afraid to laugh at the worst of their endemic follies and failures.” - Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice/President, Supreme Court of Kenya
Language: English
Pages: 344
Year of Publishing: 2015
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence

Contact Zones NRB 14: Fresh Paint Volume 2 - Telling Our Stories into the 21st Century. A Collection of Short Stories and Poems by 21 Women Writers

This is the sequel of the first anthology of literary vignettes by Kenyan women under the same title that was published in 2011. The volume is a collection of short stories and poems by 21 young women writers, most of whom have regularly attended the Literature Forum at the Goethe-Institut for the past six years. The texts have been presented for discussion in various sessions of the Literature Forum, critiqued by the participants and re-written by the authors before finally being presented to the editorial team to be considered for publication.  The quality of the work is a clear testimony to the progress made by the budding writers.  The Literature Forum is convened every last Saturday of the month at the Goethe-Institut and is open to both women and men.
Language: English
Pages: 66
Year of publication: 2015
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence

Contact Zones NRB 13: Miriam Syowia Kyambi

Volume 13 presents the work of multimedia artist Miriam Syowia Kyambi of Kenyan and German heritage based in Nairobi, Kenya. Kyambi has generated a substantial corpus of work that combines performance with sculpture, installation, paint, photography, and video. The book documents her works from 2007 to 2014, composed of solo, cooperative and curatorial works.
Much of Kyambi’s work dissects and brings to question notions of perception and memory. She examines how the contemporary human experience is influenced by constructed history, past and present violence, colonialism, family, and sexuality. By allowing performance and installation to become one entity the result of her work is often an orchestration that engages the viewer in a dynamic process in which Kyambi’s own presence provides a critical dimension. She is using performance to either begin something or initiate a shift that leads to the body acting as trigger point. The energy generated through this is something unique that cannot be found in objects and therefore leaves behind a powerful visual impression.
The accompanying texts include an essay by the founder of Peltz Gallery at the University of London Annie E. Coombes and an interview by the strategic planner Nabila Alibhai. The texts are in English.

Language: English
Pages: 164
Year of Publishing: 2014
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence

Contact Zones NRB 12: Nicola Lauré al-Samarai – Creating Spaces. Non-formale künstlerische Aus-/Bildung in Afrika zwischen Kulturpolitiken und Kulturförderung

The field of non-formal art/s education and vocational training for artists in Africa leads a shadowy existence. Although embracing the vital interface of education/art/culture, related approaches and projects frequently fail to meet the prevalent funding frames. However, African actors have long been autonomously contouring and shaping the interstitial space of non-formality with their ideas, concepts, and practice. What concrete form does their work take? What basic conditions is it subject to? Which formative effects are caused by current cultural and funding policies? These and other questions are elaborated in this volume with special reference to five actors in South Africa, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia. 

Language: English, French, German
Pages: 302
Year of Publication: 2014
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence, in cooperation with Goethe-Institut South Africa and in partnership with the Institute for Art Education (IAE)/Zurich University of the Arts.

Contact Zones NRB 11: Wanjiku. A Kenyan Sociopolitical Discourse

It all started with Moi asking the question: “What does Wanjiku know about constitutionmaking?” In answering Moi, and mainly popularized by the brilliant cartoonist, Gado, Wanjiku has displayed all the great qualities of the ordinary Kenyan. She has been a humorist, philosopher, ideologue, politician, a patriotic feminist, a theologian, historian and literary critic. She delights in laughing at the visionless of the Kenyan elite and the opportunistic middle classes. She is multi-racial, multi-regional, multi-gendered, multi-generational, multiregional, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic. She constantly calls for nationhood and unity in our diversity. She is the political leader Kenya yearns for. She remains a beacon of the hope that a just Kenya and a just world are still possible.
— Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice of Kenya

The essays in this book, edited by the late Naomi L. Shitemi and Eunice K. Kamaara, refer to Wanjiku’s role in matters of different national issues, such as constitution making, the church and the abortion debate, her representation in the Kenyan popular media, Mungiki, and HIV/AIDS. By providing an understanding of how Wanjiku rightly anchors herself in national decisions, this study becomes an extremely important addition to the body of literature on democracy and governance in Kenya.

Language: English
Pages: 334
Year of Publication: 2014
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence, in cooperation with Ford Foundation

Contact Zones NRB 10: Billy Kahora, Parselelo Kantai, Andia Kisia, Tony Mochama, Kevin Mwachiro, Valentine Njoroge - Six and the City. 6 Short Plays on Nairobi

Nairobi is a vibrant, excentric, extreme, and elusive city. The theater project Six and the City is dedicated to contemporary Nairobi. Six authors from Nairobi of very different backgrounds each portray their city in a theater piece. The plays have been newly written for this project; and they get to the heart of what it means to live in Nairobi in the new millennium: Kenyan men and women, faced with life decisions and dating issues, politicians who can’t sing the national anthem, sugar daddies and university students, NGO professionals, prostitutes, thugs, freaks, and a vibrator are some of the protagonists in the six pieces. The premiere of the plays was staged at Pawa254, in front of the skyline of Nairobi.

Language: English
Pages: 122
Year of Publication: 2014
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence, in cooperation with Hope Theatre Nairobi

Contact Zones NRB ROGUE 09: Tony Mochama - Nairobi. A Night Guide Through The City-In-The-Sun

Nairobi is fascinating. It is a vibrant, eccentric and extreme city made up of different and contradictory worlds. Nairobi is also an elusive city; difficult to comprehend and fully penetrate. What a better guide can there be than Tony Mochama, the notorious and popular chronicler of Nairobi’s urban life? Haunted by his doppelganger the Night Runner—a naked, mad and mythical being who, in popular rural Kenyan imagination, runs from house to house casting spells - Mochama will carry you along on his journeys through Nairobi. His is a declaration of love for the ‘city in the sun’, after the sun has gone down.

Tony Mochama is a writer and traveler who lives and works in Nairobi. As a journalist for The Standard newspaper - writing under the pseudonym "Smitta Smitten" - Mochama is one of the most widely read columnists in Kenya.  With his infamous anarchic use of a mixture of different languages, he has for years been documenting and commenting on contemporary urban culture and the city life of Nairobi.

Language : English
Pages : 142
Year of Publication : 2013
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence

Contact Zones NRB 08: Kevin Mwachiro - Invisible

is a Kenyan story made up of many tales. Although the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity is a very controversial topic in Kenya, the queer community has recently struggled to make itself more visible. Kenyan activists vocally campaign against discrimination and for the respect of the dignity of lesbians, gays, transsexuals and intersex individuals. As a journalist and activist, Kevin Mwachiro has taken on the task of collecting stories from this community. Covering young to old Kenyans and city dwellers to rural ones, Mwachiro has transcribed the accounts of men and women who have chosen to remain true to themselves despite the many odds that they have faced. Invisible is an exploration of their respective journeys.

Language : English
Pages : 114
Year of Publication : 2013
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence, in collaboration with the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and the Gay Kenya Trust, supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany

Contact Zones NRB 07: Mbũgua wa Mũngai - Nairobi's Matatu Men. Portrait of a Subculture

Nairobi’s Matatu Men. Portrait of a Subculture marks the beginning of our Text series that pays tribute to the academic efforts in East Africa. Due to a rather commercial publishing industry and lack of relevant institutions, most of Kenya’s well-respected intellectuals never published a book, not even the most important work of their career: their dissertation. The consequence of this is dramatic as they are not part of a global, intellectual discussion.

Mbugua Wa Mungai tells the story of a subculture that has been iconic to Nairobi’s everyday life since the 1950s: Nairobi’s privately-owned mini buses which provide public transport. He takes this culture as an entry point into a discussion of broader issues about Nairobi and Kenyan society. The author’s previous work has inspired many scholars to interrogate various aspects of popular culture in other African cities. This book, his main academic work and a seminal contribution of Cultural Studies from Africa, opens new trajectories for the understanding of popular culture and urban life.

Language : English
Pages : 254
Year of Publication : 2013
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence, in cooperation with Twaweza Communications

Contact Zones NRB 06: Ananias Léki Dago - mabati

Volume 6 of the Contact Zones Series is presenting the work of photographer Ananias Léki Dago. Born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, he is one of the most prominent photographers of contemporary African art. Travelling has become an essential source of his work: the Caribbean, the Middle East and also various parts of Europe and Africa. This book is the result of a residency by him with the Goethe-Institut Kenya in Nairobi in 2011.
Ananias Léki Dago chose to work on mabati, Kiswahili for the lightweight building material made of corrugated iron, which is ubiquitous in Nairobi. This series of black/white photographs is a portrayal of Nairobi’s cityscape and its different worlds. As Simon Njami points it out, “it’s one of Léki Dago’s secrets. He does not attack his subjects head on, he is rather interested in the details, as if he were constructing a puzzle that he would bring back for us to reassemble. He works through subtle nuances, through fragments of a larger whole.”
The additional essays by curator and writer Simon Njami as well as writer and Kwani? editor Billy Kahora comment on Ananias Léki Dago’s portrait of Nairobi. The texts are in English. 

Language : English
Pages :104
Year of Publication : 2013
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence

Contact Zones NRB 05: Mwangalio Tofauti

Nine Photographers from Kenya:
Jacob Barua, Jim Chuchu, Sam Hopkins, Antony Kaminju, Miriam Syowia Kyambi, Barbara Minishi (with Cyrus Kabiru), James Muriuki, Boniface Mwangi, Wambui Mwangi

Volume 5 gives an overview of a scene of photographers in Kenya who use the medium both for visual art practice and sociopolitical documentary photography. Historically, art in Kenya has been dominated by the media of painting and sculpture. Photography has been oriented mainly towards photojournalism, fashion, advertising and the ubiquitous publicity of NGO/Aid/Development organizations, which has had a considerable influence on the politics of images and visual discourse in Kenya. Exhibitions and projects have tended to be mainly message-driven. Nevertheless, apart from this dominant trope, photographers have still carried forward their own agendas, designs and projects, albeit on a rather underground, informal, and less visible level. This book represents an attempt to collect some of those works by photographers who are currently working alongside the dominant Kenyan photography discourse. It is a collection of what is going on in the independent photography scene in Nairobi at the end of the first decade of the new millennium.
Although the works exhibited are as heterogeneous in form and content as the artists are, a certain family resemblance was intended. What all these projects have in common is a strong nexus of content with a consciousness of formal aspects and a reflection on the gaze and the medium of photography. Hence the title Mwangalio Tofauti, meaning in Kiswahili “a different way of looking.”
The essay by the literary and cultural critic Keguro Macharia introduces the works and unfolds their layers of meanings, but also the possible interactions, associations, and interferences between them as they converse in the space of the exhibition and the book. A second volume covering the work of other photographers from Kenya will be published in 2014.
This book is published in conjunction with the National Museums of Kenya. It is based on an exhibition at the Nairobi Gallery, which was curated by the Goethe-Institut Kenya in 2010. The texts are in English.

Language: English
Pages: 260
Year of publication: 2012
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya, Native Intelligence and National Museums of Kenya

Contact Zones NRB 02, 03, 04: Sam Hopkins, Peterson Kamwathi, Ato Malinda

Contact Zones NRB pays tribute to the developments that have shaped the global art world and intellectual discourse over the last decade. Emerging from the specific perspective of Nairobi, the series is largely dedicated to the protagonists of the East African artistic, activist and intellectual scenes. The spectrum ranges from art projects and cultural practice to knowledge production and political interventions, using the book as a medium. Contact Zones NRB exclusively publish material that is not taken up by any other publishers. The three new volumes display the work of Sam Hopkins, Peterson Kamwathi and Ato Malinda.

Language: English
Pages: 128, 124, 128
Year of publication: 2012
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Native Intelligence

Contact Zones NRB 01: Fresh Paint

This anthology of poems and short stories is the culmination of a joint literary project by Amka - Space for Women’s Creativity - and the Goethe-Institut Kenya. It is the first collection of writings presented by the young writers, discussed during more than 30 literature forums, that take place every last Saturday of the month.

Language: English
Pages: 112
Year of publication: 2011
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya

In preparation:

  • Joyce Nyairo
  • Tom Odhiambo
  • Jacob Barua
  • James Muriuki

(Re)Membering Kenya Vol. 3: Governance, Citizenship and Economics

(Re)Membering Kenya Volume 3 attempts to interrogate the interplay between economics and other issues such as gender, education, environment and health by recognising that how and where people make money often shapes their relationship with others in the same or in different spaces of production. What Kenyans need to do differently in the economic sphere is the overriding question discussed in this volume.

Language: English
Pages: 248
Year of publication: 2014
Publisher: Twaweza Communications, in collaboration with the Ford Foundation and Goethe-Institut Kenya

(Re)Membering Kenya Vol. 2: Interrogating Marginalization and Governance

The second Volume takes cognisance of the fact that the problems that bedevil Kenya as a nation go far beyond questions of culture and identity that Volume 1 dealt with. Thus, it revolves mainly around issues of economics, governance and power.
There is a hint in these chapters that Kenyans need to find new organising spaces and principles on which a ‘new’ Kenya can move forward. Equally, debating the very meanings of social justice and reconciliation against the background of potential conflict should be a project of this endeavor. (Re)membering Kenya, after all, calls for a reconstruction of “the journey to the conflict” in order to find the right balance between the right of remembrance and the duty of forgetfulness.

Language: English
Pages: 231
Year of publication: 2013
Publisher: Twaweza Communications, in collaboration with the Ford Foundation and Goethe-Institut Kenya

Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter - Intruders

In the international art world, Ingrid Mwangi is, alongside Wangechi Mutu, the best-known artist with a Kenyan background. The daughter of a German mother and a Kenyan father, she grew up in Kenya before the family relocated to Germany when she was 15. Together with Robert Hutter, she forms a “double-bodied artist” with a fused biography: a compound name, born in “Nairobi Ludwigshafen”. 
Mwangi Hutter’s works, created in an intercultural context, have opened up new horizons for both cultures. They have presented stimuli to enable viewers to think about questions of identity in multi-cultural societies – a theme that is just as topical in Berlin as it is in Nairobi. With its cultural work, the Goethe-Institut and German Embassy in Nairobi endeavors to bring Kenyans and Germans closer together, both to discover the commonalities and to overcome differences in the two cultures. To this end, Mwangi Hutter have contributed an intriguing piece of work.

Language: English, German
Pages: 112
Year of publication: 2013 
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya, Embassy of the Federal Republic

Grassroots upgraded Reflections on Nairobi Eastlands

For Grassroots upgraded, twenty members of the collective Slum-TV have chosen the LOMO camera as a medium of self-representation. The project, established by the cooperation of Africalia and the Goethe-Institut Kenya, is not a development project but rather takes an ironic perspective on the development world, a position which is reflected in the title of the book and the politically incorrect name of the collective. The approach is conceptual and political, the choice of medium an aesthetic one. The LOMO camera is taken as anarchic medium, based on chance, involving imperfection and often producing a blurred aesthetic. With these images Slum-TV goes beyond the stereotypes which have been shaping our imagination of Africa. 

Language: English, German, Dutch, French
Pages: 152
Year of publication: 2012
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya, Africalia and Stichting Kunstboek

Jahazi: Culture - Arts - Performance. KnowledgeCultureMemory

In the framework of a night of commemoration, Twaweza CommunicationsFord Foundation and the Goethe-Institut Kenya honoured the great lifework of the Kenyan Professor Atieno Odhiambo and the poet/artist Bantu Mwaura, who both passed away in 2009.

The 4th issue of the journal Jahazi presents different essays and poems about those remarkable personalities.

Language: English
Pages: 80
Year of publication: 2011
Publisher: Twaweza Communications Nairobi

24Nairobi - An Exploration of a City by Photographers and Writers

This catalogue shows a selection of photos of the 24Nairobi project. 24Nairobi is one of the most notable photo projects realised in Kenya. 13 photographers documented the very different and fascinating worlds of Nairobi over a 24-hours day and night cycle.

Language: English
Pages: 193
Year of publication: 2011
Publisher: Kwani Trust

Learning from Nairobi Mobility - Cultural Libary

Cultural Library is a series of projects investigating habits and rituals, and the use of products and spaces associated with them. Those taking part in the project sketched out both the relevant issues and opportunities regarding the theme of mobility at the micro as well as the macro level. Developing finished product solutions is not the main thrust of this project; rather the aspects of transformation and interaction: How can the gained knowledge be reworked to make it useful? The results, and the manner in which they are presented in this book, show, yet again, the problem-solving potential that design has, due to its interdisciplinary approach.

Language: English
Pages: 271
Year of publication: 2010
Publisher: KISDedition Köln, Goethe-Institut Kenya and University of Nairobi

Kenya Stories

Children’s book with the most beautiful children stories written and designed by children themselves in English and Swahili.

Language: Swahili/English, insert with German translation 
Pages: 32
Year of publication: 2008 
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya, the National Book Development Council of Kenya and Buchkinder Leipzig e.V.

Picking up the Pieces. Cartoons on the Post-Election Violence in Kenya 2007/2008

Catalogue of the cartoon exhibition at Goethe-Institut Kenya. It takes a sharp, witty and bitter look at the post election crisis 2007/2008.

Language: English
Pages: 59
Year of publication: 2010
Publisher: Mvule Africa Publishers, with Goethe-Institut Kenya, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, KATUNI

Andrew Tshabangu - Johannesburg Transitions

Catalogue of the solo show of the South African photographer Andrew Tshabangu, exhibited at Goethe-Institut Kenya 2009 and other venues in Europe and South Africa. With an Essay by Simon Njami. 

Language: English
Pages: 122
Year of publication: 2008
Publisher: Tobias Wendl, Ralf Seippel
Projectpartner: Goethe-Institut Kenya, PAN Kunstforum Niederrhein, Seippel Gallery, KunstRaum Sylt Quelle, Gallery Momo

António Ole - Hidden Pages

Catalogue of the solo show of the Angolan artist António Ole at Iwalewa House and Goethe-Institut Kenya 2009. Essays by José Eduardo Aqualusa, Nadine Siegert and Margrit Prussat, amongst others. 

Language: German/English
Pages: 128
Year of publication: 2009
Publisher: Ulf Vierke, Johannes Hossfeld

Contemporary Art in Kenya

The catalogue in magazine format with CD documents the competition and the exhibition which Goethe-Institut Kenya and Alliance Française de Nairobi organized in 2006 with the support of the German and French embassies and in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Kuona Trust.

Language: English
Pasges: 28
Year of publication: 2007
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Alliance Française

(Re)Membering Kenya Vol. 1

Volume I covers the first 8 of the 25 conferences of the (Re)Membering Kenya lecture series.

Language: English
Pages: 259
Year of publication: 2010
Publisher: Twaweza Communications, with Ford-Stiftung and Goethe-Institut Kenya

Conflict Resolution The Role of Information and Knowledge Management - The Kenyan Experience

Papers of the seminal conference organised in conjunction with Kenya Library Association (KLA) in June 2008 on the role of libraries in conflict resolution.

Language: English
Pages: 168
Year of publication: 2008
Publisher: Goethe-Institut Kenya and Kenia Library Association