The Jalada Mobile Literary & Arts Festival is a hybrid between a traditional place-based festival and a bus tour.
The tour will cover 5 countries (12 towns): Kenya (Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa), Uganda (Kampala, Kabale), DRC (Goma), Rwanda (Kigali) and Tanzania (Mwanza, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar).
The festival will celebrate diversity and create living connections between writers, artists, and diverse audiences in the big cities and small towns across East Africa.
The Zanzibar leg will be a whole day event featuring a Kanga exhibition at Upendo, Stone Town.
The Kanga cloth is a physical manifestation of the challenges faced by Swahili women since the abolition of slavery in East Africa in the 19th century to the present. The Khanga documents the struggle of Swahili women to assert the legitimacy of their claim to a free Swahili identity. In the modern Swahili society, women still find a voice in Kangas to challenge social, religious, and political ideals- literally wearing what cannot be spoken.
In the modern world, most Kangas are mass manufactured in textile factories in mainland Tanzania and India. Factory designers create new designs every week and use marketers to source for sayings, proverbs and slogans from Qur’an, Bible, children’s songs, politics and new pop music. These sayings are often reworded or reprinted depending on popularity. The choice of what gets said also depends on the market segment, with village women being targeted with slogans relating to harvest, god, and luck; while the urban women are targeted with sayings relating to relationships, work, fate, and love.
The exhibition will document the ways of wearing Kanga, explore the language used in the Khanga to communicate feelings and opinions that would be deemed offensive if spoken aloud, and look into ways Swahili women challenge gender-based silence through strategic and tactful speech, proverbs, and euphemisms painted on the Khanga.