2012 Street Children’s Festival Nairobi and Odlum(House of Grass) Cultural Skills Development Institute.
Nairobi and most cities around the world, is preparing to host another Street Children’s Festival on the 10th of November. This event is an annual worldwide celebration and it hopes to bring a neglected minority group to the front of our thoughts as the society that is responsible for driving these young souls to the streets. It is a chance to make them visible and for us to confront ourselves inside this shared tragedy.
This year, the festival is partnering in the birth of the Odlum Cultural Skills Development Institute as a way to make this day become a daily reality. The vision behind Odlum is to eventually bring eight street children from eight countries around the world to give them the opportunity to be at the centre of sharing in learning and exchange inside a year-long program. The Institute is situated in Yala, western Kenya between Kisumu and Busia on the Ugandan border.
The creation of such an Institution aims at honoring these young lives through caring, loving and empowering them as those among society’s most neglected. Equally, it is also important to agitate discussions worldwide around the prevalence of street children in our societies and awaken the world to the fact that it is not the children that are the problem, but society that has lost its way. Street children are a barometer of our social and moral decay. The old African wisdom says that “it takes a village to raise a child”, something that fits with the Odlum vision.
On the 10th of November we are requesting friends, community members, the media, as well as anyone with a desire to share their unique talents, to join us in Nairobi for the festival. Odlum hopes to admit its first student on the 10th and this will, ideally, be a child selected from the Festival or from a local organization in Yala that is working with orphans.
The festival will serve as a platform to celebrate street children as well as to raise the awareness and support needed to complete the building of the institution. Chris Kasangaki of Down to Earth Uganda – an organization dedicated to educating people around the earthbag or super adobe building technique as one part of community development – has generously agreed to partner with Odlum and friends in laying the foundational bag of the Institute. The intention here is that the first student will be one of those trained in this unique building technique. Added to this, we would like to invite anyone who is interested in learning about this technique to come and do it, hands-on inside of an energy exchange – you build, you learn.
From Nairobi, those willing to share this journey will travel to Yala to witness and participate building as well as to carry the message of the Street Children Festival beyond the bigger cities.
We also are pleased to let you know that South African writer, lyricist, composer and director, Mbongeni Ngema, a struggle veteran well known for his role in ‘Sarafina’ and using art as a weapon of liberation, will be our guest of honour in the company of a child from the street. Mbongeni has graciously agreed to lend his humanitarian and activist voice to the service of the street children, the festival, as well as with a view to helping invite support for the building and construction of Odlum’s cultural skills development institutes earthbag building.
Mbongeni has agreed to speaking engagements and lectures around children, his work in the arts, as well as his unique journey. We are in the process of negotiating and confirming the exact program and dates for this which will be communicated as soon as is possible.
Mbongeni will also travel to Yala where he will open the Odlum Gallery; one of the only galleries in Western Kenya.
It is our hope that you will find and decide on a role to play by participating in making the vision achievable, thereby making a valuable contribution to our efforts, our community, our society, and the world. It is a partnership of purpose that can deliver us from the yoke of dependency so that every living soul can walk with the purpose that is inside of them, sharing their gifts with the world.
Let us honour our children by serving them for a day and so enjoy the blessings they have to offer us in return.
We thank you in advance for any energy you are able to contribute to making this vision a success. If you know of anyone else who may be interested in partnering in any way, shape, or form, please do not hesitate to forward this information to them.
About Odlum Cultural Skills Development InstituteOdlum (meaning House of Grass), is an attempt to go back to our roots materially, economically and socially. The Institute’s vision is to admit eight students, from eight countries that recognize the rights of the street children. By putting these children at the centre of our focus we hope to support the restoration of their dignity, as well as ours, and to begin making a contribution to the healing of society.
Sustainable Building and Construction will become one of the faculties of a curriculum aimed at giving these children practical skills that can be used to create a life for themselves, so that they may never again know neglect, dependency or desperation.
The one year residency at Odlum will also include learning in other skills such as Carpentry and Woodwork, Sustainable Agriculture, Electrification, Welding, Barbershop/Salon, Tourism and others. These are practical skills that can be of use in any life, skills that can be used by these children to create a life for themselves as well as to have knowledge that can be shared with others.
People from any background who have talents, and a willingness to partner, will form part of those volunteering to share skills with these children. The community of Yala is already one partner in the vision. It is hoped that eventually, this community will extend far beyond Yala to reach the corners of the globe. The idea is for people to be both teachers and pupils inside of a human exchange that will also help to break down some of the barriers and walls that divide humanity.
Odlum is about challenging divisive barriers through one of the most vulnerable and neglected of human minority groups, street children.
Part of our vision is to also have a number of supporting structures – kitchen, gallery, backpackers, etc. – all of which will ensure Odlum is not a dependent, but rather a sustainable, self-reliant center of sharing and learning.
About Mbongeni Ngema.When invited to participate in the street children festival and lay the foundation for the Cultural skills development institute in Yala, he said:
"It is always a pleasure for me to avail myself to such spiritual and humane endeavors particularly in our beautiful continent of Africa."
Mbongeni Ngema is a South African writer, lyricist, composer and director born in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal (near Durban). He started his career as a theatre backing guitarist. He is best-known for his play, Sarafina (1988), which earned him critical-acclaim and 4 prestigious Tony Award nominations. His other well-received productions include; Asinamali, Woza Albert and House of Shaka.
As a veteran activist and struggle carder against the oppression of Natives and human kind in general, he has demonstrated the power of art as a weapon of liberation.
About Down to Earth Uganda.Chris Kasangaki worked in Community Development and Micro finance for 24 years before launching Down to Earth Uganda. When contacted to be a part of this journey he asked for nothing more than: “The reason I would like to offer my services…is that I would like to see earthbag construction take root and make it possible for people themselves to have a house good enough for their needs…if I can be given an opportunity to teach a whole community and get them to have better houses, thousands of people would be happy and that is for me the better thing.”
According to Chris, “Ultimately our aim is to build a culture of sustainable livelihoods that will guarantee a healthy safe future for future generations. We are concerned about the culture of consumerism bred by contemporary capitalist thinking and how it destroys our indigenous values and respect for the earth, and its resources while aggravating the ravages of poverty, dehumanizing the majority of the poor and eroding their sense of self-worth and dignity.”
“Down to Earth Inc. is an attempt to get to the rural communities and help them to work together to build sustainable and decent livelihoods in the best way possible. Good decent housing is just the starting point... If this technique gets adopted, I am sure all of us stand to gain in terms of better housing and health for our people, a greener earth and more stable communities plus a host of other benefits that come from having one’s own permanent home. I look forward to using this as a way to guarantee better lives for those who find themselves in indecent or inadequate housing, for once they learn how to do it, and people will have moved a step closer to satisfying their need for decent shelter even without spending lots of money.”
“It´s easy to posit that earthbag construction uses the least energy of any durable construction method. Unlike concrete, brick or wood, no energy is needed to produce the necessary materials other than gathering soil. With on-site soil being used, practically no energy is expended on transportation…The energy-intensive materials that are used — plastic (for bags & twine), steel wire, and perhaps the outer shell of plaster or stucco — are used in relatively small quantities compared to other types of construction. The buildings last a long time; however, when they are no longer useful they may simply erode with no serious threat to the environment, or even be recycled into new earthbag-constructed buildings.”
Down to Earth, Uganda
Odlum Gallery.The Odlum Gallery is set right in the cultural mists of a rural community of Kenya along the N1 road between Kisumu, Kenya in the West and Kampala, Uganda in the East. The gallery aims to bridge the social, economic and political gap as it brings together all worlds in an environment where the old coexists with the new, where tradition and so-called modernity stand staring one another in the eye. It is a gallery that is set to concentrate on bringing down the walls and barriers that divide the human race, a space to share and learn with both the permanent (natives) and nomadic (travellers) communities.
Our hope is for artists from around Kenya and even the world to come and share their creative talents by having exhibitions, artist retreats, and a host of other activities. Art is one parachute that could save us all; the expression of the human creative potential that is universal to every culture and society in the world. All activities at the gallery will also go toward supporting the Institute.
Odlum KitchenThe Odlum kitchen focuses mainly on traditional vegetable dishes. These vegetables are naturally available and grown throughout the village. Whilst we aim to introduce these tastes to our travelling guests, we also aim to demonstrate a vision that says traditional dishes, with their undisputed nutritional value, can hold their own on any plate at any table! As such, we hope to encourage more villagers to utilize their nutritious land to grow more vegetables to sustain themselves and to have the surplus marketed to drier parts of the country. In doing this they will be sustaining themselves and deriving an income out of what is currently considered ‘a table bore’ (getting back to the basics, using what we already have, and tradition as our undisputed foundation).
Whilst most vegetables are mainly from kitchen gardens, the Odlum kitchen enjoys a partnership with a local young farmer, Albert, who also oversees a series of local greenhouses of tomatoes, melons, wild berries,etc. The natural abundance of fruit such as banana, mango, avocado, guava, pawpaw and other wild berries adds to a cocktail of sweet and healthy offerings at Odlum!
One aim of the Odlum Kitchen is to challenge the community to diversify and return to the growing of indigenous crops that are suited to both the climate and a healthy diet. At present, many people are dependent on maize and beans that do not always grow well in this climate. They also pay a heavy cost of failed or inadequate harvests and the purchasing of expensive seeds and chemical fertilizers.
Yala is on a major road transportation and tourism and so we have a steady market of people to serve healthy plates of food to, the proceeds of which will also go towards supporting the Institute
Odlum BackpackersOdlum is partnering with backpackers hostel in the community of Jina village. It is under the support and sponsorship of a youthful, retired anthropologist Fred Nyayiekka. We thought of having a place where travellers would feel rejuvenated and comfortable by living amongst the communities that their journeys cross paths with. This is another way we hope to contribute to breaking down barriers between people.
The backpackers is situated inside the village and therefore offers an ideal opportunity to interact with the villagers and enjoy weekly village trails with a native soul, Miyere who is able to shares stories of his Ultimate Walk for Humanity – walking from Nairobi to Cape Town South Africa in 2004 as well as through many African countries. At any-point, you will be most welcome to join Fred as he goes on his daily village activities such as milking cattle or assisting the elder- villagers with their chores.
The focus of the backpackers is around creating a base from which visitors can explore the surrounding areas. The ever flowing Yala River runs at the foot of the backpackers home and there is ample opportunity for nature lovers to gaze at the rapid waterfalls or spot the abundant bird life that twitters all around. Visitors are able to walk freely and share with the people of Yala. This is Odlum’s contribution to responsible tourism.
Currently we have double dormitory accommodation as well as single rooms for couples. Eventually, we hope to partner with those families in the village who are willing to have an earthbag room in every home where visitors will have the chance not be tourists but part of a family for a time.
Adopting values of one of the strongest plants, Grass, the community in partnership with Bosa of www.walterhadzlfoundation.org and Miyere of www.maasaiwarrior.com have initiated the Odlum Project.
(Od-lum is Luo for house of grass).
THE ULTIMATE WALK FOR HUMANITY is a native indigenous African initiated walk
from Cape Town through Cairo. It’s the continuation of our ancestral walk for unity while
promoting the ancient belief of natural living and the celebration of our diversity.
This is a way to explore and enhance our shared values as humanity and hoping
that it will be able to afford ‘Peace’ to our future. It´s intention’s include
getting back to our basics of interaction, seeing each other as human beings
and breaking down the divisive mental barriers that continue to promote
violence and separation among humanity. It seeks to Unite and awaken our senses
of a shared values beyond selfishness while Breaking down the divisive
artificial borders and limitations that are rooted in blood and servitude.
Honoring our natural heritage and walking together as a united spirit for our future generations
would be a win for humanity and a sure reclaiming of the individual´s native position as a spiritual and native home for man kind and civilization.
This is everyone’s journey, to participate in a historical
unifying journey, bent on according our children, our future justice by availing
Imagine what the children will feel like to see you being
part of the ultimate walk for humanity and how your ancestors will be proud of
What example you will be setting for our world’s future and
what position you will be placing Africa. I believe and know that peace is only possible through
freedom to unite and this is our universal opportunity after the first world
cup hosted in The African soil. That fire of unity should remain enhanced and
developed to accommodate diversity and be a turning point in the existence of
I hope that you shall find this cause worthy of your
participation and leading towards the attainment of your life’s ultimate goal,
while sharing your unique talent and inspirational spirit.
May peace be with you!
THE ULTIMATE WALK FOR HUMANITY.
The ultimate walk for humanity will start in Cape Town, South Africa on the 29th of January 2011.The world is
invited to participate in walking and dancing at least within the same hour and
consciously participate in a uniting journey for the benefit of humanity
future. It is our responsibility today.
It is an effort to express the elementary basics of life
namely water, earth and fire, which in themselves are "un-bordered"
and accessible to all and sundry, albeit in varying degrees.
It is a pity that even access to some of these elements,
more so earth, have over time been restrict to a selected privileged few, and
the worry is that this is bound to expand to other spheres of our lived
The Ultimate walk for humanity seeks to highlight and
break down the BORDERS that the “modern” world has imposed on our progeny and
the masses at large, especially the voiceless and downtrodden people.
Present day society is under a scepter of control facilitated through borrowed and imagined
values and other paraphernalia that threaten to alienate us from our fellow
human beings, confining our children and our future to fear.
A host of negative “phenomena” knows NO BORDERS. The HIV/Aids pandemic, for example, has NO
BORDERS in its speedy quest to annihilate humankind. Indeed,environmental
degradation is governed by NO BORDERS, leading to acres of wastelands across
the globe. Yet, we coil up within our constructed BORDERED realities, seemingly
hoping that all these problems will sort themselves out, or just pass away,
naive of the grim futures we are quietly accepting for the next generations and
The ultimate walk for humanity is a journey to the
cognitive mental borders that have culled our freedom to think critically. It
is a clarion call to humankind to re-waken and garner for emancipation from our
“cultural and ethnic prisons”. It is a cry for reclaiming voices of the
exploited and marginalized members of our society together. It is the raising
of a new flag, for a new space…a flag of a united people with a shared destiny.
Peace for our children. It is the realization of the many positive “phenomena”
that know no borders and have been proven to have the potential to unite, re
awaken our celebrating and uniting spirit as Humanity. Music, for example, has
no borders in its strength to rekindle the light in our souls. Walking has the
strength to unite humanity on a cultural and spiritual connected way. It’s a
pilgrimage to our Ancestral ways of peace.
The Ultimate walk for humanity demonstrates the tremendous
potential of every single human being’s uniqueness and special purpose and
contribution to a peaceful future. It is a practical way of consciously
encouraging partnership as people with unique journeys and responsibilities
that need no competition.
The understanding, that each one’s special finger print has a
special roll and space to fill in our life’s puzzle.
The ultimate walk for humanity will strengthen, equip and
enable a global network of partners to work towards a world where every
individual, every child is able live among the diverse communities without
prejudice, but human values of life. Not because our nationality, color,
religious, the cultural or ethnic background.
It is a journey towards the unification of humanity.
Aim and objectives/Target and Change.
Schools will be supported with
educational materials, medical requirements, entertainment, advocacy for
their rights through exposure of their arts and talents on a world stage.
They will have an opportunity
to interact6 and practically engage with the public along the way while
learning from other organizations about their many similar causes and how to
work together in their advocacy. This shall make them be able to focus on
issues appropriate to their context.
Partnership will be realized.
They will be entertaining and
using their talents to unify the people. They will be part of a historical
journey that would promote their art, vision and values. Collaborative work
shall be made easier.
- General public.
A more positive and uniting
attitude towards each other. A more accommodating and happy people. Awakening
of their individuality and power to make changes in their communities and walk
along, towards a shared goal.
They shall be able to network
and partner in exchange programs.
They will be invited to
articulate their values in practical terms in the communities that they are
Be able to advocate and
advocate for their different and similar causes.
- Native and indigenous communities.
Will be exposed to the world
and encouraged to show and share their values and struggles with the aim of
encouraging understanding and accommodation of each others traditions.
Methods to contribute towards the Achievement of the journeys objectives,
The Ultimate Walk for Humanity will;
- Facilitate dialogue between the different target groups and participants. The positive,celebratory nature of the journey will enable this interaction to take place in
a constructive, environment where international peers will be able to exchange
ideas and discuss strategies and participate in community projects and
initiatives, strengthened by evidence from around the globe.
- Based on sector-specific needs, the ultimate walk for humanity will be able to lobby and
invite support and partnership for the different community projects and needs
along the way.
- Attract and focus media attention on the voices, rights and potential of children and
communities and individuals participating in the journey.Encouraging and
awakening the partnership of the general world public in contributing their own
special talents and unique calling to the ultimate walk for humanity. Peace is
the only justice that we can accord our children today.
I’ve walked down from Nairobi to Cape Town and also from Cape Town to Tanzania.All through people are very welcoming
despite of their sufferings and lack of the many luxuries we find in the major
cities. The one thing that still remains to be evidently the core of their
existence in the cultures and traditions of these communities is respect.Even
though, children continue to bare the blunt of the capitalist nature of our
governing systems, these communities find a way to celebrate their existence as
part of humanity Miyere ole miyandazi
Who will benefit?
- The world as a whole will benefit, from the communities along the way to the participating communities of
NGO’S, artists, activists and everyone whose intentions are peace oriented.
- Schools, clinics hospitals and the many different institutions with various goals and intentions will benefit.
- Marginalized minority people and cultures along the way will also benefit.
- The partnership and different relationships would be a positive end of our present state of existence in the
Every one is involved as a
special art work of creation with special responsibilities towards humanity’s
What happens next?
Human beings will return to their
natural state of being, their rightful and ancient nature of human kind, where respect of life becomes the paramount
leverage of existence.
A world where our children have
learnt what adults can do together and positively change their mindsets
informed by the past.
The changed world with self
defined borders, self defined peace and freedom.
A Peaceful WORLD for our children regardless of their past experiences, living in a world with no boundaries and no limitations.
Developing Respect for one another and coexisting in a peaceful world with no mentally imposed divisive borders.