Media / Arts & Culture
Wednesday, 15 Feb 2017 12:44 EATbmulu@kenyafreepress.com
The fourth Kitui Annual Multimedia Art Contest 2017 was held on Saturday at the Wikililye market in Katulani District. The event had been organised and sponsored by the One Woman In Kenya and Kitui Mzalendo Arts and Cultural Centre. The One Woman In Kenya was founded by an American philanthropist, Martha Jalbert, of Nesville, Wisconsin.
In her speech, Jalbert, who was the chief guest at the function, said: “It is so nice to be back in Kenya and it is so nice to be celebrating your fourth art contest. Since that first year in 2011, you have exhibited your incredible talents and I am so proud of what you have done and what you are doing.” She told the contestants that they are showing their interests in the arts and they are supporting the artists.
The philanthropist also thanked the judges, volunteers, the press and cooks for their invaluable time to help in the contest. “You are so appreciated,” she told the judges, volunteers, the press and cooks. "This year we have supplemented the painting contest with some separate categories for crafters, musicians and writers. These categories add a new dimension to the contest and I am very excited about the skills and talents you bring to the art contest.
The contest started in 2011 where the contestants are adults and children categories. Some 90 contestants (50 adults and 40 children) were this year’s contestants. Jalbert said that she has been visiting Kitui since 2004 where she started with supporting education and later changed and started supporting arts. In his speech, the Kitui Mzalendo Arts and Cultural Centre Coordinator, Gideon Mukula Shem, disclosed that they (the centre) currently have a class of 76 children from Kitui County whom they are teaching the art skills.
“During these years we have been privileged to be connected to and received professional art lessons from Carthy Jean Clark, a renowned international artist and university tutor,” Shem said. “Our only way to reciprocate her kindness is only by utilising the knowledge she impacts on us to build our careers and nurture the Kitui Mzalendo Arts Academy. This is exactly what we are doing,” the artist added.
“We have had art contests annually where artists from our community showcase their talents, expose our potentials and all of us especially the core group have ended up getting recognised and offered jobs which have lifted our families financially,” he added. Shem, who is also the Kitui Mzalendo Arts and Cultural Self Help Group, said that they once held a women empowerment training responsible child upbringing and two out of the 5 women trainees are today working with children.
And addressing the function, Jemimma Musangi Mbiti, a nominated Member of County Asembly at the Kitui County Assembly, asked the young people in Kitui County to exploit their talents “because the talents is what God has given you.” “We the Africans have problems. Not because we don’t have money. It is because we are selfish,” the MCA said. Ms Mbiti, who is a teacher by profession, highly thanked Jalbert for her continued support to the Kitui people in terms of development. “We appreciate you for all the kind humanitarian services that you have been rendering to us the Kitui people for a very quite long time,” she told Jalbert.
On his part, the Kitui Mzalendo Arts and Cultural Centre Patron, Bishop Charles Kaloki, said that there is no useless person in this world. “Every person has a potential. There is what we call skills. Skills is what you can do,” he said. Bishop Kaloki said that the art has become very important in the entire world. “Art is globally needed. Art is a global language,” the cleric said.
He asked the secondary schools in Kitui County to start art classes for the good of the art in the region. Mr Kaloki also asked Kitui Governor Julius Malombe to create an art centre in the county “because Kitui is known for talented art.” He said that they do not want to see idle people in Kitui. “What we don’t want is a culture of the eating people and they are not producing anything,” the bishop added.
Boniface is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Kitui County