I didn’t hold it in anymore. I decided I was safe and trusted everybody here. It’s like I knew everybody from before. We bonded in a way that I can’t just explain. I never felt like this in my 43 years I have lived.
I named my artwork HOPE because there is hope in talking it out rather than dying in silence. My body map message is that you are not alone in the path of resisting violent extremism. My arms are wide open to support you and those affected.
I love beads and my community uses beads a lot. That is why, on the body map, I have put beads in my hands. The necklace symbolises me as a Nubian woman. I used different types of colours in my necklace and I have earrings and a bracelet. My hair in my drawing is bushy. We are still Africans, and I love my hair bushy. I don’t like to tie my hair – I want it to be open. If I tie my hair, I feel like sweating. The Kitenge fabric on my painting is African. The Kitenge sign means I am a woman who loves dressing in my own culture. I love the blue. There is blue, and yellow coming down to it.
I have positioned myself with open hands. My hands are open, so that I can hug you when you come to me, as I am ready to face it with you together. I have a hand that says “STOP”. I live in a community where you need to be proactive in stopping someone who is violent. You have to stop it by speaking out about it. If something is not right, I cannot keep quiet. It’s in me – I refuse to be intimidated. To stop something is to raise your hand to resist it. You have to stop it first, and then you can help others. I came out of an abused marriage, so I believe I can stop other ills too, such as child abuse, rapes and brutality, which children undergo. These topics really touch me. I have a lot in my head to say on resistance, but first, you need to conquer the life that you want to live – that is resistance.
I chose to be a butterfly. It is a very peaceful butterfly with very beautiful colours. A butterfly can fly high up. I am a butterfly coming to my tree during darkness. The darkness that is under the tree is my marriage. If anyone is to face violence and extremism in their marriage, then they have to remember that there is hope. They have to know that they are stronger than those black waves.
The road of darkness is about some aspects of Nubian culture, like the practice of FGM (female genital mutilation). Thanks to the government of Kenya, if you are caught doing FGM, you will rot in prison. The darkness is because girls are put in the dark during FGM. There is blue sky because, even on the road to darkness, there is brightness outside. In the forest, you can see there are trees, flowers inside and small birds who sing beautiful songs. If you are inside that dark room, you cannot see the birds, but you are going to hear the sweet songs that are going to inspire you. There are people here watching over you and you are going to hear their voices.
I live in Nyali, and this road is the way to my house. When you pass my house, you will see a blue beach. The brown area on the other side of my house depicts spaces that are vulnerable to violence. This can be an abusive marriage, gangs or youth radicalisation.