Echoes of nationhood in the Silent Room

The Silent Room where 1,600 Kenyans were interviewed for the project. Long-running project now displayed at the National Museums explores ideas of Kenyan identity, seeking answers to the question: ‘Who I Am, Who We Are’. PHOTO | JAN FOX

What you need to know:

  • If at a particular moment. She feels that every Kenyan is a “chameleon” in this sense — that they align themselves ethnically or nationally whenever the situation suits it.
  • Another interesting perspective is that of an elderly Eastern European woman who spent most of her life studying and recording Samburu culture. Though she considers herself to be Kenyan, she feels she will never be accepted as a Kenyan because of her background and colour.
  • One artist — a Kalenjin married to a Kisii and living in Kisumu — uses his body map to portray his struggles with acceptance. “I was told not to marry a Kisii. People believe that Kisiis eat people and practise witchcraft... They now understand because I have not been eaten as they thought”.

Are you Kenyan? How are you similar to other Kenyans? How are you different from other Kenyans? What makes you proud about Kenya? What does not make you proud about Kenya? What does it mean to be Kenyan? How do you see yourself in five years, in Kenya?

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