Eric Omwanda Nehemiah

Kenya - Photography

Eric Omwanda Nehemiah

Eric Omwanda Nehemiah

  • AGE : 29
  • COUNTRY of residence : Kenya
  • CITY : Nairobi
JPEG - 206.8 ko

The artist

A few words about your artistic journey

In 2013, I founded Mathare Foundation-an organization which has inspired artists from the Mathare slums and beyond. As an art manager, a story teller and a photographer I have been very instrumental in implementing 10 artistic projects with about 300 talented young artists from Mathare slums.

How long have you been an artist ?

I have been an artist for about 13 years and my journey started at Mwelu Foundation and then Mathare Foundation.

Why did you apply for this grant ? How will the grant support you ?

My intention is to prove myself since this is a litmus test for my growth in the creative economy industry since accountability and transparency is a major issue affecting different professionals. To acquire resources for implementing Creativity StARTS Here by giving people stories of hope and a future through photography.

What are your concrete artistic objectives after this residency ?

My main objective is scaling up of this project by including more stakeholders to look at mental health issues among other issues during this COVID 19 pandemic.

His residency

What did you achieve during this creative residency ? What is the result (created work) ? Who was involved in the creation process ?

“Creativity is Here” is a project that I ran in collaboration with Mathare Foundation. The goal of this project was to offer psychological support and therapeutic healing during this period of COVID-19 pandemic. We were able to give hope and a bright future to 112 000 people from Mathare slums through 80 photographs that we captured in these areas. The photographs, mounted on the walls of houses in Mathare, illustrated that regardless of the pandemic people cannot only continue with their normal lives but also thrive in such a period.

8 Young people from Mathare slums, who are members of the Mathare Foundation, were involved in the creation of the artwork. In total, 100 000 residents have accessed the slum exhibition and we reached out to 112 000 people through the online photo exhibition on Facebook.

How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future ?

The reality is that people are hopeless during this Covid-19 pandemic period. Our main concern was to offer support to be people who have been affected economically, socially and emotionally. Our priority is to contribute in giving people Hope and a bright future during such time. Photography is a very powerful tool and with this project we have been able to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We have been able to spark conversations around how people can move from a crisis and still thrive in the different sectors that they are in. During the baseline survey with the some of the subjects, we came to realize that people needed hope and they were determined to create that Hope by themselves through photographs.

The future is being shaped by young people who religiously took part on this project through content creation. They believed that their voices and those of the slum dwellers will play a critical role in not only making policy makers to think what type of projects to initiate in the fight of Covid-19 pandemic. Many organizations have focused on offering people with food, clothes, medicines and cash transfers forgetting that emotionally people are drained and they need therapeutic healing more than ever before.

How did you feel during the residency ? And at the end of it ?

This project without any doubt has made me to achieve a greater goal that I ever wanted to achieve in my artistic life. Working with the young people was a great experience, the ideas that they brought during the life of the project were simply amazing.

The photos captured were very incredible and professionally shot by the young people. The management team at the Mathare Foundation offered crucial support for the project in terms of human resource and management of the funding from Africalia Belgium and Global Giving.

I feel like we should have the second phase of this project where could incorporate new activities such as music. We have been able to produce 2 songs on COVID 19 (