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Kenyan woman makes History in New York, USA

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A Kenyan-born, Yale educated woman has  made history after four of her majestic sculptures were unveiled last week on the prestigious facade of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York City, USA.

Wangechi Mutu’s work of art is making heads – many heads – turn in the city popularly known as The Big Apple.

This is the first time ever in the Museum’s 117-year history that an installation has been made at the entrance of the historical building.

Ms Mutu’s commissioned project, The NewOnes, will free Us, features four bronze sculptures, titled The Seated I, II, III, and IV (2019). They will be exhibited until January 12, 2020.

In their website, The Met said of Ms Mutu’s work: “As with all of her work, these pieces engage in a critique of gender and racial politics that is as pointed as it is poetic and fantastic.

“With The NewOnes, will free Us, the artist has reimagined a motif common to the history of both Western and African art: the caryatid, a sculpted figure, almost always female, meant to serve as a means of either structural or metaphorical support.”

Ms Mutu, a dual citizen (Kenya and US) who is is married to Italian Mario Lazzaroni, is known primarily for her painting, sculpture, film and performance work, in a career spanning over 20 years.

Last week, she said in a statement:

“The poised, stately figures I have created for the MET facade derive inspiration from my interest in ancient and modern practices that reflect on the relationship between women and power across various traditions….They look as if they are charged with a role and responsibility. They have come to look and bear witness, and to reflect back to us what we are.”

This important installation is part of a new series of contemporary commissions at The Met in which the Museum invites artists to create new works of art inspired by the collection, establishing a dialogue between the artist’s work, the collection, the space, and audiences.

Ms. Mutu, who has lived and worked from her Brooklyn residence since 2006,  told New York Times (NYT):  “I’m not back, I’m back and forth.”

According to NYT, their daughters, ten and eight, go to school in Nairobi, Kenya.

Designed by Richard Morris Hunt and completed in 1902, the facade features four niches that were always intended to house free-standing sculptures, but have long lain empty. In filling them now with Mutu’s extraordinary sculptures, the Museum brings to fruition a dream 117 years in the making.

Mutu stages a feminist intervention, liberating the caryatid from her traditional duties and her secondary status. Mutu does so, moreover, in the context of a Neoclassical facade, whose original architects sought to convey a far more conservative set of values.

Simultaneously celestial and humanoid, each sculpture is unique, with individualized hands, facial features, ornamentation, and patination. Mutu’s embellishments take a great deal of inspiration from customs practiced by specific groups of high-ranking African women. The horizontal and vertical coils that sheathe the figures’ bodies, functioning as garment and armor all in one, reference beaded bodices and circular necklaces, while the polished discs set into different parts of the sculptures’ heads allude to lip plates. Belonging to no one time or place, Mutu’s hybrid figures are invariably stately, resilient, and self-possessed. They announce their authority and autonomy. Appearing to have recently arrived on the facade of The Met, they are the “new ones” who bring word of new ideas and new perspectives.

The NewOnes, will free Us constitutes one of Mutu’s most important and remarkable bodies of work to date, the culmination of two decades of sustained artistic experimentation and rigorous research into the relationship between power, culture, and representation.

 

 

 

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Diaspora

GOFUNDME: Kindly help Jackie Koli bury her mom and get justice

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Jackie Koli’s mom, Beatrice Wanjiku Gitura (pictured above), was murdered in cold blood after she went missing on Friday, May 22, 2020.
On Saturday May 23rd, her body was found in her car a few Kilometers from Embu Town.  Her throat had been slit, hands tied with a rope and a piece of cloth tied across her mouth. It was double tragedy since the sister to her mom (Jackie’s auntie) passed on the same day- Friday morning after battling with cancer.Jackie, an only child, needs our financial support as she prepares to bury her mom and seek justice. Any help will be highly appreciated.

Kindly donate here via Gofundme

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VIDEO: Mom to Kenyan lady in US murdered in cold blood

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With great sadness we wish to inform you of the sudden and unexpected passing of Jackie Koli‘s mom, Beatrice Wanjiku Gitura.

She went missing on Friday May 22 and later found murdered in her car. Her throat had been slit, hands tied with a rope and a piece of cloth tied across her mouth.

The body was in the passenger’s seat and the car was abandoned on the roadside. Beatrice, 57, went missing on Friday after leaving work. Her body was found in Njukiri, Embu, about 20km from her residence.

The late Beatrice Wanjiku

It’s a double tragedy since the sister to her mom (Jackie’s auntie) passed on the same day- Friday morning after battling with cancer.
Jackie, an only child, needs our financial support as she prepares to bury her mom and seek justice. Any help will be highly appreciated.
Jackie Koli lives in Seattle, Washington State.

Kindly make your donation through either of these channels:

GoFundMe-Help Jackie bury her mom and seek justice

CashApp:

253-245-6057 – ($PriscillaMuiruri)
206-372-2899 – ($Jacklinekoli)
Zelle: 206-372-2899 – (Koli Ann)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Diaspora remittances decline by Sh2.2b in April

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Money coming in from Kenyans living and working abroad dropped by Sh2.2 billion in April to total $208.2 million (Sh22.3 billion).
This is compared to Sh24.5 billion received in March, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). It was the lowest monthly remittance since February last year when Kenyans overseas sent back home $199 million (Sh21.2 billion at today’s exchange rate).
However, the cumulative inflows in the 12 months to April were higher at $2,801 million (Sh299 billion) compared to $2,750 million (Sh294 billion) over a similar period last year.
“Remittance flows from the US and Canada (contributing about 58 per cent of all remittances in April) remained largely unchanged from March, while inflows from UK, Germany, South Africa, EAC region, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia declined, reflecting the impact of Covid-19,” said CBK in its weekly bulletin.
CBK expects the Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted economic activities around the world, to curtail the remittances, which have recently been critical pillars of the country’s exchange rate.
Foreign exchange
In March, diaspora remittances generally went up but inflows from South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Oman declined, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus disease on a critical source of foreign exchange for the country.
Nearly 40 million people in the US have filed for unemployment as Covid-19 wipes out livelihoods in the world’s largest economy, and where a lot of Kenyans live and work. So far, remittances from these regions have continued to flow in steadily. However, the tide of money from North America and Europe will not last forever as the pandemic hits these regions hard.
An article by CNBC showed that 70 per cent of companies in Dubai expect to go out of business in the next six months, a situation that would affect a lot of Kenyans working in the Gulf states.
Economists have noted that most Africans in the diaspora are employed in jobs that do not have safety nets, and are not eligible for the welfare cash that a lot of industrialised countries have provided for businesses and households in distress.
Currently, most of those abroad might have raised their remittances due to increased distress calls from relatives and friends back home who are feeling the heat of the pandemic.
Many Africans working overseas have either been laid off or sent on unpaid leave and are now living on their savings. Diaspora remittances have become Kenya’s key source of foreign exchange reserves, more than even tea, coffee and tourism.
In the region, the World Bank expects diaspora remittances to decline sharply.
Expected to drop
“In 2020, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries are expected to drop by around 20 per cent to $445 billion (Sh47.6 trillion), from $554 billion (Sh59.2 trillion) in 2019,” said the global lender in a new report on remittances and migration.
“In the midst of this sharp decline, the relative importance of remittance flows as a source of external financing for low- and middle-income countries is expected to rise.” Nigeria remains the largest recipient of remittances in sub-Saharan Africa and is the sixth-largest beneficiary among low- to middle-income countries, with an estimated amount of $23.8 billion (Sh2.5 trillion) received in 2019, an increase of more than half a billion dollars compared to 2018.
Ghana and Kenya are ranked a distant second and third in the region, with $3.5 billion (Sh374 billion) and $2.8 billion (Sh299 billion) received, respectively.

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