Kwani Trust, Graphic by Michael Araka-Musa Omusi. Concept by Billy Kahora
Kwani Trust, Graphic by Michael Araka-Musa Omusi. Concept by Billy Kahora

Kwani Trust

Everyone is Radicalizing (Day One)

Performa 17 Biennial Hub

427 Broadway

New York, NY 10013


Day One

2:30 – 3:00pm

Introduction to Everyone is Radicalizing 

Kwani Editor Billy Kahora and Kwani Associate Editor Ngala Chome

3:00 – 4:30pm

Islamic Cultures In The Context of Radicalization in East Africa
Philosopher Kai Kresse presents his work on Islamic cultures along the Kenyan Coast reflecting on contexts of radicalization and insecurity in the East African region followed by a conversation with Kwani Associate Editor Ngala Chome.

4:30 – 7:30pm

African Independence Archival Films (Country: USSR/Various African Nations, Year 1960) This collection of archival footage presents five of the 17 independent African nations as they transition into democratic nation-states. From Congo, Proud son of Africa (1961), depicts the Patrice Lumumba struggle for democratic reforms in Congo. From Mali, Successors of Great Mali (1961), depicts the hardships of everyday life, while also highlighting the lyrical world of Mali’s nature through dance and song. From Cameroon, Members of Parliament of Cameroon in the USSR (1969), follows the Cameroon national assembly delegation as they visit the USSR. From Senegal, the film In Senegal (1961), follows writer S. Usman in his preparation for his book about the hard fate of Senegal people. The African Report (1971), from Chad, documents the celebration of the 11th anniversary of independence.

Hairat (Directed by Jessica Beshir, Country: Ethiopia, Year: 2016)

For the past 35 years, Yussuf Mume Saleh journeys at night to the outskirts of the walled city of Harar to bond with his beloved hyenas.

Freddy Ilanga: Che’s Swahili Translator (Directed by Katrin Hansing, Countries: South Africa/Cuba/USA, Year: 2009) Freddy Ilanga, a fifteen year old Congolese youth, becomes Che Guevara’s personal Swahili teacher and translator during the seven intense months of Ches mission to train anti-Mobutu rebels in Congo. This film is about displacement, familial relations, and the high costs of exile during the Cold War and the Cuban Revolution. It is a story about migration and displacement and the high human costs of exile and family separation.

BANGAOLOGIA: The Science of Style (Directed by Coréon Dú, Country: Angola, Year: 2016)
Africans and their cultures are inspiring the aesthetic world today more than ever. From international runways to the meccas of visual art, there is an undeniable presence of African influence and a growing number of African trendsetters. Bangaologia sets out to explore the reason behind the recent growth of the African aesthetic today.


The Performa Institute's 2017 program concludes with the residency of Kwani Trust, a Nairobi-based literary network. Kwani Trust presents Everyone is Radicalizing, an experimental subversion of its upcoming printed journal issue Kwani no. 9.  The Kwani platform at Performa features an installation which includes photography, oral history, audio recordings, and film, as well as a series of public programs at the Performa Hub. Everyone is Radicalizing takes as its point of departure aspects of radicalization across East Africa with focus on the Kenyan Coast and North Eastern Kenya as a nexus of cultures, religions, and politics. The project uniquely amplifies the area’s historical and cultural context by taking a broad, exploratory look at phenomena often described in monolithic terms, such as terror, insecurity, violent extremism, and radicalization in the region and beyond. 

Functioning primarily as a publishing house since 2003, Kwani Trust produces contemporary African writing, offers training opportunities, produces literary events, and has established a place for Nairobi within larger literary networks. The film selections are organized in collaboration with the African Film Festival New York. 


Participant Bios

Billy Kahora is Kwani Editor. His short fiction and creative non-fiction has appeared in Chimurenga, McSweeney’s, Granta Online, Internazionale, Vanity Fair, and Kwani. He has written a non-fiction novella titled The True Story Of David Munyakei and was highly commended by the 2007 Caine Prize judges for Treadmill Love; his story Urban Zoning was shortlisted for the prize in 2012 and The Gorilla’s Apprentice in 2014. He wrote the screenplay for Soul Boy and co-wrote Nairobi Half Life, which won the Kalasha awards. He is working on a novel titled The Applications. A short story collection The Cape Cod Bicycle War and Other Youthful Follies will be released in 2017. He has been awarded writer fellowships in Italy, U.K., Germany, and Denmark. He recently taught at the M.A in Creative Writing at Rhodes University and has taught writing workshops in East Africa for the last 10 years. He is also Managing Editor of Kwani Trust and has edited seven issues of the Kwani journal and other Kwani publications including Nairobi 24 and Kenya Burning. He is also a Contributing Editor with the Chimurenga Chronic. He has been Kwani Litfest Curator since 2008 and recently curated Kwani Litfest 2015 “Writers In Conversation: Beyond The Map Of English.” Billy is a past recipient of the Chevening Scholarship and an Iowa Writer’s Fellowship. He has a M.Sc Creative Writing from University of Edinburgh, U.K. and a Journalism and English degree from Rhodes University, South Africa. 

Ngala Chome is a doctoral candidate at Durham University in the United Kingdom. His doctoral research documents the modern history of Kenya's coastal region, and he is interested in how certain political ideas, such as secessionism and radical Islamist politics, were shaped by historical experiences. His work has been published in Foreign Affairs, The New African Magazine, and the Chimurenga Chronic. He is working on Kwani's? up-coming flagship journal as associate editor.  

Kai Kresse is Associate Professor of African and Swahili Studies in MESAAS, Columbia University. He has conducted anthropological fieldwork on the Swahili coast, working on local thinkers (poets, scholars, activists), the transmission and negotiation of knowledge, and the production and interpretation of texts, with a focus largely on internal debates among coastal Muslims in post-colonial Kenya. His research engages with philosophy, history, and religion, and begins to explore the trans-regional Indian Ocean connections that have shaped East African coastal society. His monograph Philosophising in Mombasa(2007) was shortlisted for the Herskovits Award of the African Studies Association; a second monograph, Past Present Continuous: Swahili Muslim Publics and Post-colonial Experience, is forthcoming with Indiana University Press. He received his PhD from SOAS, in Anthropology and African Studies in 2002, after studying Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics (MSc 1997) and Philosophy, African Studies, and German Literature at the University of Hamburg (MA 1996). Before joining Columbia, he was Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews, and Vice-Director for Research at Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin. In 2005, he was Evans-Pritchard Lecturer at All Souls College, Oxford.

Image credit: Kwani Trust, Graphic by Michael Araka-Musa Omusi. Concept by Billy Kahora


Curated by Adrienne Edwards. Supported by the Ford Foundation. Film selections co-organized with the African Film Festival New York.

  • #
  • #

More about this artist