Kanda La Ziwa and the NAAM festival

In February I had the opportunity to participate from afar in the Kanda La Ziwa – Lakeside Peoples Meeting, a dialogue and activist meeting bringing together key local partners, residents, and users of Lake Victoria to discuss the issues facing the lake.

The meeting was created as a safe space for fishermen, artists, activists, students, environmental leaders, community SDGs leaders/champions, lakeside residents, BMUs (beach management units), and politicians to hold a free-style, honest, and guided discourse on the lake’s economic, environmental, and social issues in East Africa. The aspiration was to bring all voices to the table to discuss the lake’s challenges and opportunities.

I was given this amazing opportunity through fellow National Geographic Explorer Dave Ojay, who works closely with the NAAM festival and the FlipFlopi Project. If you want to be inspired and feel positive about the future, check out the FlipFlopi Project!

As part of the meeting, I was honored to contribute a lecture about my Entangled and Ingested project, which focuses on the impact of plastic pollution on marine life. I discussed my research on plastic in the US and India, collaborations in Uganda and Indonesia, and the ways in which I use art and education to raise awareness about plastic pollution and its effects on our environment.

In addition to the lecture, I also recorded a sewing demonstration to show how I create my sewn plastic pieces—in my case, portraits of animals harmed by pollution. I am really hopeful that local artists might take this as inspiration and re-mix, innovate, and use their own talents and creativity to do similar work.

Overall, I am grateful for the opportunity to have virtually participated in the Kanda La Ziwa – Lakeside Peoples Meeting. It was inspiring to learn about the challenges and opportunities for Lake Victoria, and I am hopeful that these conversations will lead to positive changes for the environment and the communities that depend on it. Working with Dave and his colleague Sarah was really fantastic—and I also had the chance to meet another artist I’ll share more about in a future post.

As we continue to face environmental challenges, it is critical that we engage in dialogue and activism and work together to find solutions. Dave, Sarah, and their team’s work contributes to these efforts. I look forward to seeing the positive impact that this platform will have on Lake Victoria and its communities.

Published by katharineowens

I'm a mom, environmentalist, professor, artist, and writer.

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