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The East African Diaspora in Motion: Six Degrees From Home

 

The name Six Degrees From Home plays on the theory of six degrees of separation, which is the theory that we are all no more than five human connections away from anyone else in the world. Six Degrees From Home posits that for those in the diaspora we are all no more than one/two/three/four/five people, languages, cities, countries, or seas away from home. Six Degrees From Home is a project that seeks to understand the lives of diasporic East Africans in the now. It is the brainchild of Ugandan in Cape Town Faye Kabali-Kagwa and managed by Aisha Wanjiru Osob-Mugo.

aisha wanjiru osob mugo

It aims to facilitate conversations around migration, displacement, and identity in the East African context using art as the mediator. This could then serve as a networking hub for East African creatives within the diaspora and create a platform for East African creatives in Cape Town to showcase their work. Portraits will be printed and used to curate a physical exhibition. An eventual digital ‘home’ for the pictures and stories taken and told at the event will be the culmination.

The first event that SDFH will host is a tea for young women between the ages of 18 and 30 who identify wholly, or in part as East African. Each woman will be asked to bring an object/artifact/ or garment that reminds them of home or a woman/women in their family. At the event each woman will have her portrait taken by an East African female photographer. The photographers will each have a booth which they curate, and is representative of their respective styles and processes.

 

Tea and coffee will be used as mediators of conversation and together with portraiture explore ideas of belonging, womanhood, memory, and identity creation.

By taking portraits of these women Six Degrees From Home centers the conversation around displacement and migration on women. This is important because the common narrative puts the emphasis on men returning to women, be it in the form of mothers, wives or children. These portraits also comment on the idea of home as characterised as feminine. In our everyday language we speak of the “mother land”, the “mother tongue”, and the “birth nation”. Implicit in this project is how women see themselves in connection to home.

The inspiration came from founder Faye Kabali-Kagwa’s quest to understand her identity.
“I grew up in South Africa, but both my parents are Ugandan. I, along with my siblings, grew up knowing that we were Ugandan. Our parents made sure that we knew that Uganda was our home. We used to visit Uganda as a family every two years or so. For the past few years I tend to go by myself over the Christmas break to see family. After high school I realised that if I wanted Uganda to continue to hold significance for me, I would need to grow my network beyond family and family friends. When I went to university I started to make East African friends. I started to understand what it was like for them growing up back home, and how they made sense of their lives. Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, stopped being news stories, or historical places, but places that I could relate to in the present.”

 

Faye

“In 2008 and again in 2015 South Africa had two significant bouts of xenophobic violence. I thought about my family and why we moved, I thought about my friends and why their families moved, or how they were here for school and work. I thought about how communities of people move for all kinds of reasons and how having singular narratives of migration is problematic and harmful. Six Degrees From Home is a way for me to connect East Africans in a way that uses creative expression as a tool for conversation and dialogue.”

When: 7 August 2016

Venue: ikhaya Lodge, Wandel Street, Dunkley Square, Cape Town

Time: 15:00 to 18:00

Cost: R50

RSVP: Email Aisha Mugo

To find out more take a look at Six Degrees From Home

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