By Claret Adhiambo
Brave fearless and resilient, this group of young artists from Nairobi’s Kayole area is not taking chances with the COVID-19 Disease which has thrown the nation into panic, fear and anger.
Ever since Kenya reported the first case of COVID -19, the government announced a raft of measures in the war against COVID-19 which include social distancing, washing hands with soap and water, wearing face masks and staying at home.
And so armed with spray cans, paint brushes and face masks, these young artists from Wahenga Youth Group and Kushites Creations are scaling walls and crossing bridges doing murals educating Kenyans on the COVID-19 disease.
A disease that has had businesses closed, thousands of youths rendered jobless and hundreds of Kenyans locked in their houses.
“Before COVID-19, we were a youth group transforming public spaces by beautifying and cleaning them,” says Wahenga Youth Group Chairman Samuel Omare who is popularly known as Forty.
According to Forty, when the first case was announced and everyone asked to take precautionary measures, they sat down as a group and deliberated on how they could contribute in the fight against the pandemic.
“Companies were donating hand sanitizers, soaps, food others were even giving out water tanks but we could not afford that, so we thought why not use our talents and do murals to educate people about the virus that was first reported in ChinaC,” he says.
Using the area’s popular Sheng language Forty and his team embarked on doing murals that contain messages telling people to wash their hands with soap and water, to keep social distance and also to stay at home.
The messages are put on various walls including rented houses and other public buildings of course with the approvals of the owners of the buildings and area authorities.
They have so far done 12 murals in Kayole, Matopeni and Komarock.
However they are currently grounded, they have run out of finances and resources to continue with the noble project.
“We first started off with money that we individually raised, after it ran out we approached PAWA254, (an organization that supports local art) and they gave us more spray cans and paint brushes to continue with the campaign,” says Forty.
Apart from educating people about coronavirus, the murals have also eased tension and panic that had gripped the nation when the first case was reported.
“You know this disease came about with a lot of stresses and tension, many people lost their jobs, some became afraid of what might become of the world, but you know this art has somehow eased that tension and made people realize that it can somehow be managed,” he says.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday announced the creation of over 26,000 jobs under the National Hygiene Programme in a bid to cushion the thousands of youths who had been left jobless due to Coronavirus.
But as Forty and his team wait for the implementation of this programme, he hopes that more funds will come their way to enable them continue with their campaign.
“Right now we have nothing in our pockets. We have exhausted all avenues on getting cash and we are only banking on promises from individuals,” says Forty.