Liberation-Arts-Participation at the 6th LaBa! Street Art Festival

This year Uganda will celebrate its golden jubilee, and what better way to celebrate such a milestone other than with art! On June 9, Mackinnon road Nakasero will be ready for the sixth LaBa! Street Art Festival, once again organized by Goethe-Zentrum Kampala (GZK) / Ugandan German Cultural Society together with Ugandan artists.

By Elizabeth Namakula

According to the GZK Director Carolin Christgau, this year’s theme is Liberation. Arts. Participation. Visitors and the participating artists will join forces in a creative and innovative process. Interactive workshops and events will vitalize the theme from different angles.

The festival also tries to strengthen the community of Kampala by transforming 50 dust bins into pieces of art. The dustbins will be distributed all around Kampala—as a symbol of how art and participation can transform a society.

Participatory art projects

“We believe that art is not reserved for a small circle of artists and art lovers. Art is for everyone. The main idea of the festival is that everyone is able to participate. Up to 100 visual artists will present their arts and crafts, and about 100 performing artists will engage the public with exciting interactive events,” Christgau says.

Currently, art groups like Breakdance Project Uganda, Fas Fas Bugolobi, and ArtPunch Studio are in the process of preparing their participatory projects.

The around 200 artists from different artistic backgrounds; painters, musicians, sculptors, designers, dancers, photographers, and others, will once again transform Mackinnon road into a big open art space.

There will be a fashion show meant to involve everybody, with models who are picked straight from the street and renowned, local designers who will dress them up in clothes of their choice. Xenson, Latif, Stella Atal, Anna Clare Lukoma, Sema Bryan, Vicky Nguela, Ned D, Kaz Kasozi and Ras Andre are among the designers lined up for this noble venture.

Another way to celebrate art at the LaBa! will be through language, as embassies from different countries will present their language and information about learning possibilities.

The event will run from 11am till midnight. At around 6pm, after the art markets have closed and the sidewalks are deserted, all guests will be invited to join an exciting evening of music, fashion and poetry in the gardens of the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala. The concert will feature Joel Sebunjo, Alai k from Kenya, Abramz, and Irene Ntale amongst other.

Started with the pot holes

LaBa! started in 2007 with the slogan Pot in the Hole—a tribute to the numerous potholes on Bukoto street. Artists and spectators were both invited to transform concrete into art; playfully, artistically and colorfully. The creative community of painters, dancers, and designers have the following years turned Mackinnon road into an open-air platform for creativity.

Last year’s festival as well showcased a great variety of Ugandan visual and performing artists. Every single one eager to display and offer their creations to the mesmerized strollers. It was art fully reloaded and ready to explode; fashion designers displaying their wares in temporary market stalls, hip-hop groups inspiring many of the young people to move to the groove, and children drawing stick people on the tarmac.

Image collage from the LaBa! 2011. Photos by Thomas Bjørnskau.

Rebecca of ‘3 in 1 Art group’ wrote on her blog that last year’s festival was a fun chance for her youth group to showcase their skills in dance and drama. Some of them performed short skits in the street with positive messages such as being faithful, staying in school, and stopping domestic violence.

This year’s festival is expected to attract a wide range of people with different backgrounds; students, art lovers, art professionals and families.

Coca Cola, WBS, Alliance Française, Radio Simba, the German Embassy, D Mark Mobile and the Royal Norwegian Embassay are some of the official sponsors of this 6th edition of the Laba! The event kicks off in the morning, on Mackinnon road between Kafu and Sezibwa road. It is free and everybody invited.

Start the celebration of Uganda’s Anniversary at LaBa! with art in all shapes and forms.

Elizabeth Namakula is a freelance writer living in Kampala, Uganda. Her short story “A World of Our Own” was recently published in the Femrite-collection “World of Our Own”.

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