TOPIC: SOCIAL PRACTICE
Koko’TEN. One word for a crossover of art functions. Instead of just ‘sit and draw’, just let it go. Get into the flow. Take a walk. Feel the atmosphere; use your head, your eyes. Read the signs, the streets, the people. What is that we need over here? What can we do about it? Then go back to your studio, sit down again and start painting.
Lushoto. A small Tanzanian city located in the middle of the Usambara Mountains, next to the Kenyan border. You can’t see the city from the ground. You have to know where you’re heading to find yourself sitting on the edge of a mountain watching the highway between Dar Es Salaam and Arusha. We are hidden in the mountains between the earth and the sky. There’s only one way to get here and return.
Founded in 2011 by Tanzanian artist, Gadi Ramadhani, the basic idea behind Koko’TEN is to gather artists from all over to work together and support young people in cultivating an artistic way of thinking. The goal is to contribute to improve not only the Tanzanian art scene, but the whole East African cultural life, out of the big city borders, so that art can become a common part of local people’s everyday life.
In the Tanzanian context, with a population of 50 million people, development is concentrated in only a few parts of the country. In Dar Es Salaam, the capital of the country, everything is already possible, and for that reason, Ramadhani chose to find an active location outside of the capital. Koko’Ten has moved to Lushoto, a well-known place, a good location that people find interesting.
Lushoto is a small mountain town, population of approximately 30,000. It’s is a main tourist stop between Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro. The nature, mountains and viewpoints make the city a fascinating location. Colonized by the Germans, it used to be called Wilhelmstall and served as a paradise for wealthy nationals to spend their holidays in the African nature. When the Germans left the Usambara Mountains their architecture remained.
Lushoto has also two main Universities next to the city center. The local population is a diverse combination of Tanzanians living in the same area. Older generations wearing traditional East African “kanga” clothes mix with young people wearing skinny jeans and big headphones.
The inspiring combination of modern and traditional motivates Gadi Ramadhani to bring together art, print making, music, and movies in creating an arts and culture organization that helps people produce their work while introducing East African artists to the world. Through this, we can reshape our thinking to embrace the potential of developing countries.
Learn more about Koko Ten here.