2018 was ‘off the charts’ as far as contemporary Kenyan art was concerned. One can’t recall a year when there was so much activity among artists who not only exhibited at well-known venues like the National Museum and galleries like Circle Art, One Off, Banana Hill, Red Hill, Polka Dot and the Nairobi Gallery. These were all sites where a wide array of exhibitions were held throughout the year.
Artists also got into the habit of holding ‘pop-up’ shows so that they exhibited their work everywhere from Muthaiga Heights (with Beta-Arts), Metta in Westlands, Karen Landmark, Karen Country Club, Uhuru Garden (at Dream Kona) and the Railways Museum where the BSQ graffiti artists re-designed an old railway car into their own colourful studio.
BSQ were not the only artists to open their studios for show. Brush Tu Art did it. So did Kuona Artists Collective (on a monthly basis). So did Dust Depo. And even artists who had set up studios at Kobo Trust opened their spaces to show their new works this year.
A number of individual artists opened up art spaces of their own. Painters like Adrian Nduma already had Bonzo Gallery while sculptors like Kioko Mwitiki previously had Pimbi Gallery. But then Jeffie Magina left the GoDown to set up Studio Soko while Chelenge van Rampelberg opened her own Chelenge Home Studio. And Geraldine Robarts built a whole new gallery in her back yard. Even the Dutch art consultant Willem Kevenaar opened The Attic literally upstairs in his Nyari home and it was quickly becoming an art space of people’s choice this past year.
Hotels were also more actively supportive of Kenyan artists this year. The Norfolk started the year off by having a solo show for Coster Ojwang right out in their front lobby. Hill Park Hotel held their first exhibition showing Kaafiri Kariuki’s ‘Dancing Pen’ paintings.
The new Tamarind Tree Hotel also had a group show of Kenyans, collaborating with Polka Dot Gallery. Sankara Hotel had quarterly exhibitions in collaboration with One Off Gallery. Serena Hotel also collaborated with African Heritage House’s Alan Donovan to exhibit sculptures by the late Expedito Mwebe as well as pre-colonial works from Nigeria, Congo and Kenya.
The Intercontinental showed works by Tina Benarwa, Ruth Nyakundi and Dinesh Revankar. And even Sarova Stanley held a one-night visual art festival. But it was the Dusit D2 that hosted a house-full crowd for the 2018 East African Art Auction which was curated by Circle Art Gallery.
The success of the East African auction apparently sparked a wider interest in auctions this year. The TNR Trust (the animal welfare group) had its own Silent Art Auction in cooperation with One Off Gallery. So did Paa ya Paa Art Centre. Kenyan artists were also involved in art auctions in South Africa and UK in 2018.
Meanwhile, restaurants and malls were busy having shows. Village Market hosted several East African artists’ exhibitions while Lavington Mall gave space to up-and-comers exhibiting. Carnivore, Lord Erroll and the Talisman among others opened up their walls for artists to exhibit their art.
But some of the largest group shows were hosted by the foreign cultural centres. The French, Germans, British, Americans, Russian and Danes all assisted Kenyan artists with exhibition space. Alliance Francaise was still the prime location for artists to exhibit.
But still the British Institute of Eastern Africa was also quite active as they brought back their ‘Remains, Waste & Metonymy’ and initiated the cross-cultural showcase of food with ‘Kukolacho.’ The Americans annually support two major shows, one being the KMS Affordable Art Show at the National Museum, the other the ISK Friends of the Arts (FOTA) exhibition, both of which attract substantial art-loving audiences. The Germans’ Goethe Institute also hosted a number of exhibitions while Heinrich Boell Foundation launched the 2019 Kenya Arts Diary featuring an exhibition of artists’ works which were featured in the Diary.
And while the GoDown Art Centre ended the year by moving artists working there out while it’s involved in renovating a new space, another art centre was being born upcountry at Tafaria Castle where George Waititu also runs artist residencies for adventurous Kenyans.
Finally, the clearest sign of the vibrancy of Kenyan art is seeing how every major gallery was fully booked throughout the year with shows by everyone from veteran artists like Yony Waite and Magdalene Odondo to Kamwathi, Abusharia, and artists from Wajukuu, Maasai Mbili and Karen Village.
The one major loss of 2018 was the demise of the inimitable Jak Katarikawe.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
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.
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.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
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.
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.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
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.
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.