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Geraldine Robarts at Nairobi Gallery with her artworks
Geraldine Robarts at Nairobi Gallery with her artworks. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG 

The Nairobi art world is normally dominated by male artists. But this past weekend we saw a major turn of events.

Not only was there the opening on Sunday of the exhibition of nine so-called ‘Pioneer Women in the Arts’ in East Africa at the Nairobi Gallery. On Saturday, there was another opening of artworks by two more Kenyan women.

In contrast to the ‘pioneers’ (a euphemism for ‘antique’), these two, Janice Iche and Moira Bushkimani are blossoming newcomers to the local art world. They both bring fresh new perspectives on creativity to their show, which they share with Peteros Ndunde, at the Attic Art Space in Nyari.

The previous Thursday, at Alliance Francaise, Joy Mboya of The GoDown Art Centre was guest of honour at the opening of another female newcomer’s art show. ‘Hadithi Hadithi? Hadithi Njoo!’ is the name Gloria Muthoka gave to her first solo exhibition ever.

Her link with Joy is that she is based at the GoDown and all the 47 works on display were conceived at that Industrial Area art space.

The month of March, when March 8 brings International Women’s Day, is usually when one sees a number of women artists come out and expose what they’ve been up to quietly over the previous year. But it’s apparently by coincidence that all 12 of these women’s works are on display concurrently.

Ironically, we have men to thank in two out of three cases for exposing the women’s work in exhibitions. At Nairobi Gallery it was Alan Donovan, of the African Heritage House, who pulled together the works of these nine important pioneer women artists and curated their show.

Sadly only one of the nine was present at the opening. Geraldine Robarts did a stellar job speaking about her career and artistic practice as both a professional painter and university art lecturer at Makerere and Kenyatta universities. But the beauty of the exhibition made up for the absence of Prof. Magdalene Odundo, Nani Croze of Kitengela Glass, Yony Waite of Gallery Watatu and Wildebeest Workshop, Rosemary Karuga, Theresa Musoke and the deceased Margaret Trowell, Joy Adamson and Robin Anderson. But the beauty of the exhibition made up for the absence of.

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Janice ICHe Untitled painting at Attic Art Space in Nairobi

Janice ICHe Untitled painting at Attic Art Space in Nairobi. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

At the Attic Art Space, it was the Dutch consultant, Willem Kevenaar who invited Moira and Janice to bring their art along with Peteros’s to put on display in his gallery.

The contrast between these two shows couldn’t be more striking in that the pioneers are by definition women who are already well established artists. All nine are names well known within the regional art world and beyond.

In contrast, Moira only began experimenting artistically in 2013 and has been mentored by Kibera-based artists like Kota Otieno and members of Maasai Mbili. Janice has been practicing art an even shorter time; but both women are bold, experimental and daring in their style of expressing themselves artistically.

In this regard, they both have something in common with another female artist, Joan Otieno, who currently works with young women in Kariobangi, mentoring them in means of expressing themselves using found objects, especially plastics.

Meanwhile, Gloria is much more of a visual storyteller. In fact, she carefully researched African folktales and selected ones that she felt had the most graphic appeal. Again, it seems coincidental that her show of colourful folktales would coincide with the depiction of some of the same stories in the musical production of ‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ currently on at Kenya National Theatre.

moira bush Kimani with her ‘Bearer of Inspiration’at Attic Gallery in Nairobi.

Moira bush Kimani with her ‘Bearer of Inspiration’at Attic Gallery in Nairobi. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

For example, Gloria paints her interpretation of ‘How Ostrich got a long neck’ which at Tinga Tinga, the story’s about how the giraffe (played by Nyokabi Macharia) got a long neck. And like the musical, Gloria fills her show with a cast of animal characters whose stories teach us lessons and fuel our imaginations.

And as if these aren’t enough women working in the visual arts to convince us that we’re seeing the strengthening of women’s role in the field, there’s more. Women are behind two upcoming silent art auctions, both of which have already opened the bidding.

Carol Lees of One Off Gallery is working with the animal welfare group, the TNR Trust, to organise an art auction filled with mostly new works by Kenyan artists in aid of the Trust. The auction’s final day is this Sunday.

Phillda Njau of Paa ya Paa Gallery is also hosting a Silent Auction of East African artists’ works which will be on October 7.

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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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