The culture festival Nai Ni Who took place in Nairobi summer 2013, a 12 week festival engaging almost 60 000 people. This was the first time a citywide festival was organized, exploring the identity of the city and its people.
The response has been overwhelming as people from both rich and poor neighborhoods where acknowledged as part of the city, and where their voices were transmitted to urban planners and local government and the vision of Nairobi 2030.
"Going forward Nai Ni Who has seeded several threads that the city can capitalize on and, indeed, some discussions have commenced with the City County on the possibility of the continuation. There is an appreciation of the city’s uniqueness and diversity. Nai Ni Who offered a chance to think: “its hardworking residents who ‘hustle’ early to late each day”, “to look at people for who they are, to feel the city as it is, to not judge the people and places of Nairobi.” Joy Mboya, director of GoDown ArtsCentre.
There are several outcomes from this project that will impact Nairobi, even though we cannot see the physical impact manifested yet. Key outcomes are:
- On the local neighborhood level we see an increased self-awareness and stronger belonging among groups of people to their neighborhoods. The festival Nai Ni Who was intended to be a one off project, but the local project teams are determined to organize a second festival in summer 2014.
- On city and county level, the GoDown Arts Centre is included in reference group sessions for development of the new master plan for Nairobi, placing a culture operator at the core of planning. Specific culture activities created for the festival, such as city walks, is picked-up by the city
council and the national museum, with the ambition to offer city walks as a permanent service to the people of Nairobi and visitors.
- On international level, Nai Ni Who is an example and methodology for cities. More and more cities see the importance and value of engaging its population in planning procedures and investing in participatory processes
for urban development. UN Habitat has selected Nai Ni Who as one of three examples which are presented at World Urban Forum 7, in Medellin, Colombia - where the theme is Urban Equity Development - Cities for Life.
The collaboration between Mimeta and GoDown Arts Centre was supported by the Swedish Post Code Lottery Culture Foundation and by the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design. Nai Ni Who was the platform for an exhibition created by the Centre for Architecture and Design with the title "Who is the
City? Meetings between Nairobi and Stockholm" which was open for three months in Stockholm. Parts of that exhibition will be hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi, June 2014, as an example when Sweden celebrates 50 years of development cooperation with Kenya.