My name is Mwende "FreeQuency" Katwiwa and I am a Kenyan poet, activist, organizer and youth worker living in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was recently invited to be a delegate to attend the Breaking Down Borders Africa Youth Summit from May 16th-20th, 2017 in Johannesburg , South Africa. I am one of 4 artists who were selected to be part of this gathering including Mthunzikazi Mbungwana (South Africa), Amanda Black (South Africa), Flavour (Nigeria). Full disclosure, I'm not the best at asking for things, I'm usually one to just figure out how to do things on my own, but I would love the chance to go to South Africa to be part of and contribute to this intentional organizing space for African youth and I am leaning on my community to support me in being able to go on this journey. The money raised here will go to cover the costs of travel to and from the United States for the convening (The ticket is almost $1200 even). I think I can handle the rest on my own. :)
For the past few years, a group of folks from all over Africa have come to New Orleans through the Mandela Washington Fellowship. This summer while I was back home in Kenya, I ran into, Paul Modjadji, a South African participant in the program as he was on his "Breaking Borders Africa" tour. His dance based pan-African program aims to use art to break down the artificial borders between Blackness across the continent. While in Kenya, I took him on a tour of Karura forest where we spoke about African resistance to colonial rule, how Nelson Mandela had been inspired by Kenya's Mau Mau resistance as well as the need for Africans today to be organizing across false colonial borders for our collective liberation.
I am asking for support to attend this summit for 2 reasons:
1. On a personal level, I want to continue to explore what it means to connect with and organize Black communities across man made and geographic borders. I truly believe place informs politics and I want as many places to inform the way I move forward in my organizing work
2. On another level, www.Noirlinians.com, the African fashion and culture blog I run with Denisio Truitt was recently awarded a grant to convene an artivist (art based activist) exchange program between New Orleans and Nairobi. While at the summit, I also plan to connect and speak with and brainstorm with participants about best practices for such an exchange.
ABOUT BREAKING DOWN BORDERS AFRICA YOUTH SUMMIT: This Summit is a new platform aimed at strengthening ties between African youth leaders from across the continent and different fields to think, form solutions and act in the best interest of the continent. The main objective of the summit is for youth leaders from the countries in the Breaking Down Borders Africa Tour to engage with other youth leaders and key stakeholders in South Africa in the formulation of solutions for the benefit of the continent. Furthermore, the summit serves as a networking opportunity and platform to learn from each other and from experienced leaders.
About 65% of Africa's population are below the age of 35. A platform for young people to come up with shared solutions for their present reality and imagined tomorrow is what is required. This summit heeds this call. Reliant on relationships among the youth and the link that African youth have created over modern technologies and innovations, the summit will be a platform for African youth to speak among themselves and to those in power with a view to giving voice to the solutions needed by the African continent. That this momentous milestone should take place during Africa Month should take place during Africa Month is testimony to the mission of an empowered and united African youth that is determined to ensure that all looking up to them follow in their footsteps.