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Mau Mau women story told in faceless portraits

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Mau Mau women story told in faceless portraits

Wambui Kamiru Collymore
Wambui Kamiru Collymore combines her talents as a historian and fine-artist in her installation at Rosslyn Riviera entitled Wambui’s Cucu’s Kariiko. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG 

Wambui Kamiru Collymore combines her talents as a historian and fine-artist in her installation at Rosslyn Riviera entitled Wakariru.

The show is named after a song that Kikuyu women sing as they go about their daily business. But over the years, the lyrics have been lost, so only the tune remains.

Lost language is one of the central themes that Wambui addresses in this multifaceted assemblage of ideas and tangible forms, deriving from her quest to document African history and culture.

“A people’s history is embedded in their language, so when the language goes, the history goes with it,” says Wambui who, through her research, has been trying to retrieve what’s been lost of Mau Mau history in order to rectify some of the common misconceptions held by scholars and laymen.

One of those misconceptions is that women didn’t play an active role in the Mau Mau struggle. To disprove that myth, she interviewed Kikuyu women, starting with her own cucu (grandmother) whose kariko (woman’s kitchen) is replicated and situated at the centre of the Riviera’s large exhibition hall.

Made of mabati (iron sheets), it’s equipped with all the essential items Wambui found in her cucu’s kariko, including a live chicken whose abode is next to the three-stoned fire place, the two charcoal stoves, half a dozen drying maize cobs that hang from the ceiling, and all sorts of other sundry items. There’s a stool where the cucu sits and cooks as well as a bench outside her front door for visitors. “It’s outside because only women [and small children] are allowed into a kariko,” Wambui adds.

The 12 female freedom fighters whose faceless portraits are framed and featured in Wambui’s show, backed in every case by a 1893 map of Kenya. “The women are faceless because, [in addition to being portraits of specific women], they represent countless Kikuyu women who were committed to Mau Mau,” she says as she explains the process of creating each portrait.

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After taking photographs of the 12, she cut out their faces, so as to make the point that each image could have more than one meaning.

For instance, she identifies Mukami Kimathi as having been a messenger, informant, soldier and recruiter, roles that many other women played. Others were arrested and detained for years, while many lost loved ones in the war.

In the process of removing a face, what remains is a portion of the colonial map, as if to suggest the coloniser would have deleted the women’s identities while colonising their minds.

The issues of cultural identity and lost language are further illustrated by three ‘tin-can telephones’ which are hooked up to the women’s singing the Wakariru.

Their voices are muffled, which apparently is Wambui’s intent since the actual meaning of the song’s lyrics is long gone.

Having already interviewed many Mau Mau women, Business Daily asked her if she was planning to write a book.

The challenge, she says, is that the project is ongoing. She hopes to get to other parts of Kenya to interview more women who were involved in the anti-colonial struggle.

In the interim, her installation is multimedia.

For not only are photography, portraiture and three-dimensional rural architecture are included in Wakariru.

Wambui also has a website that includes all the women’s stories plus other things.

She’s created a video based on a promise she made to Mukami Kimathi, the widow of Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimani.

It was to take her letter and deliver it to the Queen of England, asking her to please identify where the remains of her late husband are buried so he can be given a proper burial.

The video shows Wambui trekking to landmark spots in UK, including Buckingham Palace. Apparently, she didn’t succeed in delivering the letter but the effort was made.

Finally, the other medium that Wambui uses in this installation is the sound track of a session, including three generations reflecting on various aspects of Kikuyu culture that might otherwise be lost to future generations.

The cucu speaks to Wambui in Kikuyu who then translates the cucu’s story into English so her daughter can understand and one day pass on the information to the next generation.

Wakariru will continue until April 15, then to be abridged and included in the East African Visual Arts Trust, which is in Carol Lees’ custodial care and curated by James Muriuki and Marc van Rampelberg.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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