Someone visiting Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, for the first time would describe it as bustling modern city. However, its planning reveals that it is not child-friendly; it lacks recreational facilities like playgrounds, forcing children to wallow in the mud and garbage. BETHSHEBA ACHITSA reports on an international initiative that empowers children through painting, prose, photography, video and music.
Perhaps it could be because children do not have the courage to express themselves on the kind of world they envisage that a museum in Germany uses playing and painting as tools for empowering children to express themselves on world issues. It therefore organises world art exhibitions each year.
Children are invited to participate in the exhibitions through their paintings, prose, photography, video clips or musical work. The fourth edition of the exhibition was a unique one because children from Africa: Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, South Africa and refugees from Rwanda living in Kenya, got a chance to submit their drawings and prose.
The drawings and paintings which are captured in the Kinder Kunst Museum catalogue show that children are aware of their world. With minimal restrictions, the imaginative ideas of children are fully expressed through their pencil, water-colour and crayon drawings.
Children from Kenya, aware of what happens to thousands of their counterparts across the world, try to talk about health. One drawing shows a young girl being led by a man to school. The writings: “SAY NO TO SEXUAL ABUSE” are enclosed within the same drawings and thus arouses a lot of questions in the minds of many people. The number of children who are raped and molested proves that the world is not a safe place for children. The increased rates of child sex tourism along the coastal region of the country indicate that children are at a greater risk.
Prose by children from the same country reveals that the hearts of children are pained by the day-to-day occurrences. They define what “art” means, where they would wish to live and their dreams of the world of tomorrow.
One child writes, “Art to me is that which is not only beautiful to the eyes but also beautiful to the heart, mind and soul.”
In another drawing a 12-year-old child from Ghana demonstrates the interaction between leaders and their subjects. The drawing shows a man___ likely to be a leader carried by the other men on their heads. Being a drawing from Africa it definitely tells more about the type of leaders that rule in this continent of wasted opportunities. One cannot fail to learn how unscrupulous and inconsiderate the “leaders” become after they ascend to power.
This drawing is a true reflection of what happened in 2008, in countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe with the political leaders. Leaders seem to continue holding to power and do not want others to lead. After elections the countries were in chaos and coalition governments came up as the only way out of the political stalemate.
Children from Bulgaria show what a peaceful and quiet environment is. The different types of houses and environments show what happens when the environment is not cared for.
RELATED: Inspiring Writing in Art and Design
One of the pictures shows a home within the green leafy suburban with numerous trees surrounding the buildings, a peaceful and lovely home. Yet another drawing from the same country shows the effects of modern technology: pollution by the various means of transportation.
Human interactions with one another are shown by children from Indonesia. Through the brightly coloured works, one is able to see young children playing out in the fields, people of all ages gathered probably for a party and more pictures showing people who live in harmony in their day-to-day activities.
However, human interaction is captured on a wider range through a drawing by a child from Russia. In this picture the 15-year-old shows people from different countries gathered celebrating the theme of the 4th exhibition of the Kinder Kunst Museum. If all people would interact at this level then racism, tribalism and classes across the social divide would be a thing of the past.
If the environment is not well cared for the effects that come along are too much to put up with. It is with this in mind that children from Malta talk about the environment. In one of the drawings a cyclist is drawn in an area with many trees. The child then says: “I LOVE BREATHING FRESH AIR, LET’S KEEP THE AIR NICE AND CLEAN.” This is just a plea for all to ensure that they protect their environment.
While many children have focused on the lives of human beings and their environment, very little is said about pets and other animals. A 10-year-old child from Malta advises that we all take care of our pets. In his drawings he shows a happy dog that is taken care of. Its kennel is neat and it is given proper food. The child goes ahead to draw a miserable dog without proper care. The children through their drawings try to remind us of the things that we always ignore.
In line with the theme “my house, my blue planet earth”, most paintings are in blue and most drawings have a house which proves that children are innovative, creative and idyllic.
Located in Berlin, Kinder Kunst Museum is an international museum of children’s art that was founded on August 11, 1993 by Nina Vladi. The idea of the museum has its origins from USA where the first museum was established in Brooklyn, New York, as an alternative to the traditional museum concept.
Kinder Kunst Museum is a venue where drawings of children from all over the world are archived. Its galleries and cabinets were at the turn of the 20th century said to house more than 8000 artworks from around the world. It also stores objects from 48 countries___ mainly illustrations.
The 180-page book undoubtedly documents and builds a communication bridge between all nations. Printed on hard art paper the drawings create a symbiosis between cultures from all over the world.
The welcome addresses included at the beginning of the book show that very many people would like to see children prosper and become great people in future. However, mere words become meaningless if they are not turned into actions.
From the various exhibitions that have been held, children have been able to create their desires and dreams through paintings and drawings. The works of art show that people of this world have more in common, than what separates them.