Another successful day at the Mabinti Centre in dar es Salaam. This is the start of my second and last week working with the women there and this week’s group were just as enthusiastic and engaged with the creative work as were the first group. Colour theory was new and fascinating to them and the colour wheel, a magic thing! The womens’ sense of design seems innate and they were making beautiful and complex patterns on a basic framework consisting of six lines and 5 circles. We went on to talk about hot (johto) colours and cold (baridi) colours. Swahili and English got all mixed up with laughter and a truly healthy competitive spirit when we started to play a ‘colour game’ with a whole assortment of tiny textile paint bottles!
After a hearty lunch of rice and beans and Tanzanian spinach I continued to sketch and take photographs of the site and of the people working there. As I sat in the cool shade of the banda, quietly sketching the women as they went about washing up the plastic boxes they ate their food from, and cutting cloth in the outside work space, I felt I was in a place where things – lives – change.
A trip to the supermarket in the early evening was an equally moving experience. I walked with new found and very wonderful friends, who hail from Denmark, and they led me through the ‘local neighborhood’ here in Mikocheni. My artist self was intoxicated by the richness and the authenticity of everything that was around me – the people, the smells, the colours, the smiles, the narrowness of the dirt streets (that I have to admit did encroach on my closely guarded sense of claustrophobia!) and the incredibly stark juxtaposition of the barefoot scraps of humanity who were playing, as children will, in the heat and the dust, and their impeccably clad elder siblings coming home from school in distinctive and immaculate uniforms. Chickens run to and fro in the neighbourhood, many, many people sit, chat to friends, or simply watch the world go by outside small, dark houses or bars. They work on cars, motorbikes, bajaji, they sell their fruit, vegetables, clothes or jewellery, they just, simply ..live their lives. We heard “Hallo! How are you?” at every turn. The children repeat it endlessly until we respond and then reply back to us with enormous smiles. “Welcome!” (Karibu) rings in your ears always here in Dar and we heard it no less infrequently here n the nieghbourhood. This was an experience burnt into my memory…. my thanks to Eva and Claus.