A youth group that was instrumental in advocating for peace in Kibra during the 2007 General Election has now turned its focus to the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
In the last five months, the Masaai Mbili youth group has been using graffiti to pass messages to residents on how to curb the disease and distributing free soap to ensure they maintain good hygiene. The graffiti is giving a splash of colour to the walls and serving as posters for messages on Covid-19, urging residents to maintain hygiene, practice social distance and wear masks. By providing free soap, the group has made it easier for Kibra residents to keep the virus at bay.
The group is made up of 20 talented artists who came together to showcase their talent. Usually, they do there artwork for sale, but once in a while they use it for community service. Mbuthia Maina an artist, and a member of the group said: “The art you see around about Covid-19 came because of the experience we had of the post-election violence in 2007. We used to do our art and advocate for peace around the community with writings such as ‘Keep peace’ or ‘Peace wanted’ on the wall along the roads at night,” he said.
The group was started 20 years ago with the aim of finding a market for products by artists in Kibra and also giving them the visibility they needed.“The two founders wanted to help Kenyan artist understand their art work is worth something,” Maina said.
Maina said the graffiti project is their way of giving back to the society during these trying times. “Even as we try to earn a living during this time, the community around us comes first and that’s why at the moment our individual art work has been put on hold. Now we do community work to help those around us to cope with the situation,” he said.
Their art work is simple and easy to understand. This makes the message they try to convey easily relatable to the audience.The soap project is based in Bombolulu and they have been distributing it to locals for free. “There are a lot of washing booths and businesses with washing areas in our community. We saw it fit to make soap and distribute at different places since its hard enough for people to provide for their families without thinking of an extra cost of water, soap or sanitisers for their businesses,” Maina said.
Currently, the group has a distribution plan to reach more areas around Kibra. They distribute the soap to four locations– Bombolulu, 42, Soweto and Olympic. Their next stop is Makina.