The Dream Chaser
I call this body map painting “The Dream Chaser”. It is about a boy’s dream to be someone and to achieve something in life. It is about hope.
I love the position of my body because this is how I normally lie in bed to think about the day’s events before I fall asleep. I feel safe in this position. I used green because of its peaceful side. Yellow is my favorite colour. The dots mean the scattering of the people, the tribalism, the marginalisation, the unemployment, and the killings.
My heart is the biggest inner peace that I have inside me. If only I had listened to my heart on the day I was attacked, I would not have gotten this trauma. I should have listened to my heart.
When I am not busy, I go to a Swahilipot meeting with friends, making my plans for my day-to-day activities. I often think about other people like those that I went to school with. I think about the group who go around killing and robbing. Will they change?
The camera is my passion and my employment, and I love teaching my friends photography. I empower them instead of just roaming around the town claiming to be unemployed. It is true that the government does not look after us anymore. You see young and talented people killed and their lives wasted because they did not get an opportunity in life or have education and aspirations. This does not make me proud to be a Kenyan. I have all the rights to be a respected Kenyan citizen, to be what I want to be.
Inside my body map, there is a boy who has stopped engaging in violent extremism. However, there is darkness around him and he is lost inside. He does not know where to go. There is rain and a thunderstorm – the rain is the society. How is society going to respond to the death that maybe this boy has caused? Like the story of my friend the footballer who was killed, what if he had reformed? How would society have accepted him? The thunderstorm is the government side. Even if you go to rehab, they can still kill you. That is the thunderstorm: they can kill you anytime.
There is a patch of blue in the painting and a boy swimming in the ocean or in a pool. We must find ways to kill the idleness, to be healthier. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. At a time when you are just sitting there with nothing in your pocket, you can easily go and do something bad. Once you are being influenced, you can easily be taken away.
When I think about my outside world. I see Masjid Musa mosque. The incident at Masjid Musa affected me so much. The security that I used to feel whenever I was in the area of Majengo, the faith, and the love. I went to school there, and it made me who I am today. I have lost all that because of the killing that happened in that mosque. The government security forces got into the mosque with their shoes on, and they beat and killed innocent people. I lost friends in that mosque. Now, I do not want to go back to that mosque ever again. I fear it very much.
Below the mosque, there is my house. This is where I feel safe, love, hope, happiness and humanity. It is a place where I can freely talk, say anything I want and share what I learned and from where I can bring a change to the people around me.
On the opposite side of my painting, there is the Swahilipot. It is the place where I was made, where I got empowered to be who I am today. It is where I can achieve my dreams. I got my chance of being educated there. I will do my website classes there and, by using the internet, I will grow.
My hand printed in red represents the blood that has been shed. I say no to violence. It is a ‘Stop’ sign. I want to believe in a path to peace. This path is expressed with the green and the white in and around my feet.
I used this hut to represent my mum. She is the light of my heart. She is always there in my heart guiding me to the right path. Women are important in the upbringing of children. A mother’s love is the best love. A mother cannot allow her son to be taken by Al-Shabaab. She will not accept that. She would be fighting and resisting those who want to take her son away.
I have been against violent extremism for some time, but this artistic process has made me understand how to fight it better. I can resist anything that comes my way, but I never thought that I could have new ways of resisting that are within me. Art is another way of self-defence. It is a way of being your own self and a way to engage constructively with others. This art can bring social change.
We need to create hubs and platforms to empower the youth and to learn new things. Through projects like the body mapping, we can become different people. We can speak through art. Now, I can just stand there and let someone see through me. I believe that this painting and my words can influence others.