Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kenya culture and craft

Welcome to Kenya... Kenya by way of DC at the Folk life Festival this year. It's still going on, you still have time to attend! I took many photos, and will share a few with you my friends! The festival is all about the culture, performance, crafts, philosophy, language, music, food, dance, and more. I spend a lot of time with artists from the various countries and luckily most of the ones from Kenya spoke English. I only took photos of a few crafts, the ones I liked most. The above glass mobile is made from recycled glass, and was lovely in color and line. Another glass project was...
This house made from beer bottles. We aided their home building by drinking two of their good Tusker beers with a hint of citrus. Yum! There is a man working on the house inside, see him? I was quite taken with the following house...
It was made of grass between Wednesday and Saturday here at the festival. I liked the picture of the rural dwelling with a modern stroller in front! We were all laughing as we paraded into the house like clowns piling in a clown car. Once you got in however it felt quite roomy and the woman inside was charming. I talked to her of course, and found out she was from a small city in Kenya, learned to make this form of house from her grandmother, and that farmers in rural areas still lived in these homes. She said they were thicker in Kenya than this one, with little light provided by kerosene lamps. She had a ready, tinkling laugh, and her eyes twinkled when we laughed together! I love meeting new people and hearing about their lives.
Another intriguing art form is plaster work. 

This man is painstakingly carving plaster applied to the wall, the design fully in his mind. He thoughtfully stood back and decided where to apply the scalpel-looking tool, to carve away everything that shouldn't be there.

 Would you just look at this giraffe!! There were three of them in a little herd next to each other in the tent. 
The artists make them from melted flip-flops! 

It was crowded so I didn't even attempt to speak to them, but you know I would have asked lots of questions... what started your interest in flip-flop-melting? 
I enjoyed seeing this sign outside the textile tent. It says
A woman isn't happy until she has a thousand Khangas

These are the sarong like fabrics with wild beautiful color combinations worn in a variety of ways. There are two khangas hanging next to the sign.

This is a carving out of soapstone I believe. Intricate and delicate yet strong. Shiny. Smooth. So full of movement and energy. The artists were very busy talking to people, smiling and happy.

We wanted to try the Kenyan food, which reminded us of  Indian spices. They were always out of coconut rice! We did try the samosas, and, YUM!

I could have eaten more than two for sure. We had the veggie samosas but they had beef as well.
At the end of the day, we listened to storytellers talking about their long apprenticeships. They needed to be able to know their audience, how to talk to them, how long and full to make their stories, and how to present them with drama and humor. I loved the two I was able to hear. I think we'd have become friends given a chance!
The cultural areas were closing to prepare for the evening concerts. The food and drink tents were doing a booming business as it was dinner time. As we were leaving Kenya for the day, we walked behind these two men. I loved their clothing, red and sparkling, flowing, textural. I loved that one man had on running shoes.
I love learning about other cultures and how much we have in common. These people from Kenya were jolly and smart and learned. And they love fabric too. 


  1. I feel like I was there with you! Good job!

  2. Love the wood carving, giraffe and costumes (with tennis shoes)! Thanks for sharing your pictures.

  3. Oh my! I love the giraffe... I want to make in a bulldog or a flamingo..lol

  4. Boy, I wish we had something like this here in the UK. It sounds like a really great event, and your pictures and writing really give a feel of it.

  5. Have loved the pics from this festival. That giraffe is adorable.
    Wanted to say thanks for visiting my blog. I can't reply to you though sorry as you come up as no reply in my emails xxx

  6. So interesting! We have a kanga that is our favourite tablecloth ... it has some words in Swahili written on it, but I've forgotten what they mean.
    The kerosene lamps in the thatched hut - that's an expensive and dangerous way to get light - the fumes wouldn't get past health&safety in the West. Fortunately there are now (local) companies producing solar lights - expensive at first, but as kerosene is a major household expense, they work out cheaper (and better) in the long run.

  7. I'm not sure which is cooler - the event or your perspective of the event! :)

  8. Love reading your accounts of being at the Folk Festival, especially since you always have such a good time there. So different from my experiences of hot, crowded times with a reluctant husband and even more reluctant son in tow! Clearly you and Drew know how to do it right. You guys would really enjoy traveling abroad together!

  9. what a great day you had
    a great post you made to share with us fabric folk ! !

  10. What an exciting adventure! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!