The group was started in the year 2004, after some youths had graduated from an art college shabu and others started painting at a place in quarry outside a company, after the company left we grabbed a two room space which was used as a toilet. We cleaned it and started meeting there to work together. But this didn’t last for long as the place had no security and as artists we could not leave our art work or equipment there. The other reason is that we wanted a place where we could be distinguished from the majority of the youths who engaged themselves in crime and drugs. Our determination to succeed led us to approaching a well known artist, shared with him our ideas and we worked together for a short while but due to differences in our interests we parted ways.
After parting ways with the artist, a great number of our members also left as some of them were under the impression that the group wouldn’t succeed and others due to the fact that those days selling art was a huge task. Those members who left majority ended up in drug abuse and crime which led them to losing their lives. Every cloud has a silver lining, the remaining members came together and decided to register the group and through the efforts of well-wishers and contributions from members this was made possible. As we were ready to register the group we had to come up with a name. After discussions the members came up with the name WAJUKUU which was derived from a Swahili proverb “majuto ni mjukuu huja baadae”. The proverb means that consequences of mistakes done by parents or a certain generation are felt by the children or the next generation. This proverb was relevant us because we were suffering for the mistakes of our parents. Until now we are still a collective of artists who also do community development activities in Mukuru slums.
Mukuru slum sits on a hillside below the factories that make up the industrial area of Nairobi. Heavy rains carry toxic pollutants through the community, pouring into Ngong River. Once fresh and clean, the river now runs opaque; sewage and garbage clutter its banks. Enterprising urban farmers draw water from the river to sustain small gardens that grow from the toxic soil.
Nearby, a dumping site draws youth from the slum. Largely shut out from employment at the factories that pollute their community, scavenging for items to sell is one of the few economic opportunities available to the youth of Mukuru slum. Many eventually turn to crime and selling drugs. Violence and sexual assault are all too commonplace, jeopardizing the well-being and claiming the lives of many young victims.
From this landscape emerge Wajukuu Art Project, a testimony to resilience and the capacity of people to transmute suffering into beauty. Wajukuu Art Project is a registered community-based organization situated in Lunga-lunga neighborhood of Mukuru slum. As we continue to grow our goal is still the same; to make Mukuru a place where a child could thrive and to create employment through the production and sale of quality art works. Through art classes, Wajukuu empowers children and youth to use art to connect with their heritage, cope with challenges they face in their home and community, speak out against injustice levied upon them, and envisage an alternative future.
- To create an avenue for self employment for young people in our community by developing a working art space where artist can make and sell art works.
- To create a good environment for a child to express his/her thought in order to overcome life vices.
- Develop children and youth artistic talent.
- To provide space to children and youth to engage themselves in activities those seek to provide alternatives to drug and substance abuse.
- Create and cultivate a sense of dignity among youth to realize themselves worth and their contribution to the society around them.
- To plan mentor and exploit youth talent through producing and selling art work and making an income generating activity.
- To help young people to dissolve their skill competence talent and link themselves to resources and institutions that can utilize them.