#Music Artists

Turkana Artists Xchange creates modern art grounded in Kenyan tradition

Since 2018 a collective of Kenyan artists has been producing vibrant new work combining visual arts, music, fashion and design to give voice to the people of the neglected Turkana region. Peter Achayo explains the background to their work.

 

Energy is not generated in a vacuum, and far too often the communities native to the centres of production are, if anything, the last to be brought into conversations about potential projects in their land or neighbourhoods.Turkana County forms the northernmost corner of Kenya and borders Southern Sudan to the north and Uganda to the northwest. It is a vast arid area that has suffered from years of neglect due to historical political marginalisation, hence it has remained under­developed, underserved and poor, causing communal conflicts and social stress.

The locals are nomadic pastoralists whose livelihood is in cattle keeping. Due to their marginalisation, the Turkana have been at the periphery of many important decisions concerning their region, and their futures as well.

Over the last two decades, the political and economic importance of Turkana has changed. When oil was discovered in the Turkana Basin in 2012 there was great excitement among the political elite and the Kenyan public. Tullow Oil won a concession to explore the commercial viability of the oil deposits. Further east, in Marsabit County, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project has been successfully completed.

With these two developments, Turkana gained new political and economic status both nationally and internationally. This brought with it renewed interest and vitality in the region, with the local youth dreaming of dividends from the investments.

Turkana Artists Xchange creates modern art grounded in Kenyan tradition

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