An awesome global collaboration – Kenyan art in Raleigh, NC!

All four of Leah Odero's paintings grouped together at the art exhibit

All four of Leah Odero’s paintings grouped together at the art exhibit

IMPORTANT NOTE: The four paintings will be on display at the December 17th Jamhuri Day Celebration (Sertomoa Art Center Raleigh 5-11PM) coordinated by Raleigh’s Kenyan community and Raleigh Sister Cities. They can be purchased, and we will be having a raffle for one and an auction for another. Link for more information on the Jamhuri Day Celebration.

All paintings are approx. 22 inches by 32 inches

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I have some exciting news to share. As many of you know, I have been involved in community development work in Kenya. You can link here for a short summary of how I got involved in this work, and you can also read my progressive updates about ongoing progress. I posted extensive updates with photos and a video in May and January. Though my partnership with the people of the city of Mtito Andei was announced over five years ago, the work has really taken off since teaming with my new trusted partner and now my pastor (yes, I belong to a progressive open church in Kenya) Rev. Michael Kimindu of Neema Metropolitan Community Church, Mtito Andei, Kenya.

Also about four years ago, I was delighted as a long-time resident of Raleigh, NC, when Raleigh Sister Cities announced its fifth sister city – Nairobi, Kenya. (Use this link to read more about what Sister Cities International is about.) What a wonderful coincidence that confirmed that my focus on Kenya was well chosen. I got involved with the Nairobi sister city committee and then last year the Raleigh City Council appointed me to the Raleigh Sister Cities (link) board of directors.

And in 2016, Raleigh Sister Cities is celebrating our 30th anniversary with a full year of ongoing activities. One of those is an art exhibit with art from the sister cities on exhibition through July at the Betty Ray McCain Art Gallery at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh. (See gallery information at the bottom of this blog below all the photos.)

Hearding by Leah Odero

Hearding by Leah Odero

The exhibit features 51 works created by 17 artists from Raleigh’s sister cities in Nairobi, Kenya, Rostock, Germany, Kingston-upon-Hull, UK; and Compiegne, France. The exhibited works were selected from 135 submissions by co-curators, Lee Hansley, proprietor of Lee Hansley Galleries in Raleigh, and Melissa Peden, a Raleigh art consultant.

When the Nairobi committee was having problems securing suitable art, I sent an urgent message to my community development partner and pastor in Kenya, Michael Kimindu, and through his connections he introduced me to a talented young artist in Nairobi, Leah Odero. She sent me photographs of her paintings, and four were selected for the exhibition. I and my business (Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer) sponsored the shipping of the artwork from Kenya to the USA.

I and my business are delighted to be one of the exhibit's sponsors

I and my business are delighted to be one of the exhibit’s sponsors

On June 3, I was given a private tour of gallery since I was not able to attend the opening, and including in this update are several wonderful photos. Also, all four pieces of Leah’s art are for sale, and it would great to sell them and send Leah the cash instead of shipping the art back to her. You can email, [email protected], for info and pricing, and the art can be yours after the exhibition ends later in July!

I am so pleased at how this international collaboration has worked so well and how special gifts like art that enrich all our lives can be shared globally.
Group 1
Group 2A
Group 3
The Betty Ray McCain Art Gallery is in the lobby of the Meymandi Concert Hall at Raleigh’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The gallery is open prior and during events at the Meymandi Concert Hall. Link to events schedule.

Issues in Kenya – So what do Kenyans Think?

It is a privilege to work with Rev. Michael Kimindu of Kenya who is tirelessly fighting corruption in Kenya.  Here he is in front of the Southeastern University College Mtito-Andei Campus, where he is making valuable community connections.

It is a privilege to work with Rev. Michael Kimindu of Kenya who is tirelessly fighting corruption in Kenya. Here he is in front of the Southeastern University College Mtito-Andei Campus, where he is making valuable community connections.

Because of my community non-profit work in Mtito Andei, Kenya (link to latest updates), I had promised to write a blog about Kenya every two or three months. In September, I started with “The Problem with Kenya … and My Hope” in which I provide a pretty harsh critique of what is holding this country back, with it’s excellent natural and human resources, from becoming a leading economy of the world. And in November, I published “A Blog from Kenya – Who Will Same Kenya?” written by a Kenyan pastor (pictured above) who is not afraid to buck the status quo and truly question the role the religious establishment should have in fighting the rampant corruption and injustice in Kenya.

I do realize that any critique I may provide is done so as “outsider” and some may question if I even have the right to offer my observations, assessment and recommendations. I do so out of a true caring for this country and its people.

When I was in Kenya in November, I picked up the newspaper “The Daily Nation” during a 12 hour (gasp) layover in the Nairobi airport. And my assessments were confirmed in that the general population of Kenya agree with my strong recommendation that the problem of rampant corruption needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Corruption is one of the major wrongs that can hold any country or organization back because it inefficiently siphons off needed resources for the good of the whole into the personal pockets of the wasteful few.

Here are some of the points raised in the article “Poll: We’re headed in wrong direction” on page 3 of the November 16, 2015 issue of “Daily Nation.”

• According to the poll, only 29% of Kenyans feel the country is headed in the right direction, down 5 points from the previous year. 62% of Kenyans feel the country is moving in the wrong direction.

• The three issues identified on “top of mind” of Kenyans leading to these results are: corruption, high cost of living, and lack of jobs. The high level of corruption in government was rated the #1 issue by 40.9% of the citizens.

• The national ministry of Education, Science and Technology was the poorest rated ministry by the citizens. This is a dangerous assessment given the importance of education on helping build highly skilled citizens to help compete in the global economy.

• And in terms of national commissions, the “Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission” was the lowest rated.

International corruption measuring bodies do confirm the high corruption in Kenya; for example Transparency International ranks Kenya 139th out of 168 measured countries , which is a horrendous performance. NOTE: and we think the USA is corrupt – we rank 16th out of 168!

My sincere hope is that the people of Kenya can unite to fight corruption and elect women and men of high integrity with hearts and minds to help Kenya progress, and that bold new leaders will arise to lead with honesty and transparency.