The exhibition, One Thousand Voices by Owanto opens on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The exhibition will be accompanied by a panel discussion with artist Owanto, journalist and producer Katya Berger, activist Elisabeth Katamboi and Zeitz MOCAA’s acting Chief Curator, Azu Nwagbogu. The discussion will highlight the relevance of art activism and the responsibility placed on global art institutions to consider the different ways we can engage with initiation rites, customs and traditions in contemporary society.
One Thousand Voices is a collaboration between Owanto and Katya Berger, with contributions from NGOs, schools, and safe houses, including Elizabeth Katamboi who will share her testimony about how she escaped ‘the cut’.
Please note that this event is free with museum admission and RSVP is required. Click here to secure your seat.
About Elizabeth Katamboi
Elizabeth Katamboi was born in Maasailand, a rural part of southern Kenya overlooking Mt. Kilimanjaro. She was raised in a typical Maasai village and in a small hut, called boma, in the Maa language. The Maasai commonly encourage boys to get an education, but not girls. Katamboi was lucky to attend school at the same time a non-profit, Africa Schools of Kenya initiated a two-day “Alternative Rite of Passage” ceremony and curriculum transitioning pubescent girls to womanhood. The harmful ritual of Female Genital Mutilation was replaced with health and human rights education.
Katamboi transferred from a small makeshift school to her new state-of-the-art Esiteti School when she was in 4th grade. It was the first time she learned of the health risks of FGM, especially for young bodies giving birth. Katamboi convinced her parents to allow her to finish high school and not go through the typical Emuratara, which included FGM. Katamboi’s mother, at the time, was one of the 15 ‘cutters’ in the village.
Since 2007, ASK has worked with the Esiteti community where Katamboi grew up. ASK played an integral part of providing a school called Esiteti Primary School. Esiteti School currently has over 500 students in K-8th grades, with a girl’s dormitory and a boy’s dormitory will be completed this year.
Katamboi was the first of any generation from her village to get an education. Her sponsors through ASK are both educators, and they helped her not only graduate from high school but also finish college in 2018. Katamboi has her degree in social services and medicine and was hired by ASK to work on a two-year pilot program. The Health Wagon program will service the health needs, for the very first time, of people living in and around Esiteti. The Kenyan Ministry of Health has agreed to hire Elizabeth when she finishes her two-years with ASK.
About Katya Berger
Katya Berger is a multimedia journalist, videographer, and producer. She holds a BA in French and English Literature from King’s College London and an MS in Journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
She has worked as a freelance producer for some of the top TV channels and news outlets in France and led the production of political satire news segments, news reports, and TV documentaries. She has joined the teams of Quotidien avec Yann Barthès (TMC), Sept à Huit (TF1), France 24 and Agence France Presse, created video content for UN Women’s online campaigns and has carried some of her own projects from concept to end. Her work has also been featured in Scientific American and EDAN TV (Canal + Africa).
Berger is collaborating with Owanto, Venice Biennale artist, on One Thousand Voices, an immersive sound installation composed of testimonies from Female Genital Mutilation survivors.
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