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Intentional Conversations between Toronto & Kenya

“Baraza” is a Swahili word that means “a meeting of people who come together to share ideas with intent and purpose.” Imagine a street corner, an issue to be discussed, a few chairs—some occupied with people already busy exchanging ideas, while other chairs remain free, waiting to welcome more people into the circle—people who would join in the conversation to contribute their own perspective to the issue. A Baraza happens with intention and purpose but also spontaneously, in-situ, impromptu serendipity, and relevance to the “now.”

Our project, our Baraza, creates an intentional conversation between artists from our community in downtown Toronto, The Esplanade, and Nairobi, in Kenya, to explore the building of bridges between our two communities, where people and stories are the heart of the connection. The exploration unfolds through artistic encounters, intentional discussions, story sharing, and the exchange of multiple community-engaged arts practices.

Founder and Alchemist Isorine Marc has invited artists Takako Segawa (dancer and choreographer), Aline Morales (singer and musician), and Yasmine Omar (emerging photographer) to join her on a two-week journey to Nairobi to be a part of these conversations. In 2024, Jamii will also invite three artists from Kenya to come to our community, The Esplanade, thus nurturing a two-way relationship and intentionally weaving our multiple stories together to offer a stronger, more in-depth narrative.

Together, this group forms our Baraza. In both places, our Baraza will also connect with local artists, arts institutions, schools, libraries, community members, and community leaders, inviting them to embark on a journey of sharing. These conversations will take place in the form of one-on-one encounters, talking circles, workshops, informal presentations, impromptu site-specific happenings, community arts activities—all under the umbrella of the Baraza concept.

The Baraza was devised by Isorine Marc, with Sharon Adhiembo, and is in partnership with Sekoya East Africa. We are grateful for the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which believes deeply in the Baraza and has made a dream come true.


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