A media-, art- and design project in the Eastlands of Nairobi, Kenya

Why do you need design in a slum? You don’t really need it but design can help to make a difference: media projects and art are a fun way to empower youth to tell their own story.

In January 2013 I started USANII LAB in Nairobi, Kenya. 17 young, passionate and interested young people from the Eastlands of Nairobi came together to engage in different workshops 4 days a week for a period of five months.

Our main principle was and is: Learning by doing. Within different projects the USANII LAB crew has been learning how to design logos, posters, books and animations as well as using the internet to showcase work online. Ideas can be drafted with all kinds of tools, pens, scissors and paint. At the same time they learned how to use graphic design computer programs. Some of the output of our workshops can be seen on our USANII LAB website.  

Together we decided to create a platform for youth called ZOOM magazine which we launched in June 2013. ZOOM magazine fills a gap in the Kenyan media scene: our magazine is made by youths for youths, written in English and Sheng. Sheng is a Nairobian youth language based on Swahili, mixed together with English, Luo, Kikuyu and other Kenyan languages. ZOOM showcases new talents and speaks with a fresh, bold voice about social issues faced by young adults. The magazine got recognized in several media e.g. social media week, arte creative, Deutschlandfunk and Sueddeutsche.

USANII LAB is now operating as a creative collective. The first generation of participants are multipliers with their own ideas. One great outcome was the Kakuma pilot project in Kakuma refugee camp organized by James Wkwam Chemose and Cyrus Simiyu.