On February 3, 2009, Harambee Arts’ staff member, Edcard Muteshi, led a two-day “making art out of found and recycled objects” workshop, with the women of Langata Prison’s HIV+ support group. Edcard mesmerized the women with a great array of colorful materials including beads, seeds, bottle tops, buttons, pipe cleaners, sisal and other bits and pieces.
They were engrossed in their projects for hours and Edcard did a wonderful job of providing individual attention and assuring that everyone made something that felt special to them.
Mary, in her mid sixties, is a Maasai who has been in remand (waiting to be sentenced) for three years. She is the only Maasai in the support group and the women call her “cucu (a Kikuyu word meaning grandmother, pronounced “shoo shoo”) Maasai”. Why was she arrested? The story goes like this: “I was selling illegal beer out of my home with my son. One night a stranger came to the house and he was already completely drunk. The man fell asleep on the floor. I called the police but no one came. The next day the man was still there. I went out to do some shopping and when I returned home I found that the man was dead. I called the police again and this time they came and they arrested my son and also me. He is in prison too.”
Mary chose some beads and spent the day by herself surrounded by color…beading. She was completely at home and in her own Maasai world…very sweet to observe. At the end of the day she gave me a bracelet that she had made during the workshop. I will always treasure that simple yellow and red gift.