The Annual General Meeting of the Kenya Quilt Guild was held on Thursday, April 18th, at the Simba Union Hall where we have been meeting in recent months.

 

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Chairwoman Neela Shah opened the meeting with a brief discussion about our recent exhibition at Sarit Centre.  The general feeling was that the show was a big success and that we will want to repeat the performance every year in future at the same venue. According to the foot traffic monitor, we had over 3700 visitors!  Even taking off numbers for our own people walking to and fro, this was a lot of people!  Our goal, of course, is to educate the general public about the beauty and functions of patchwork quilting and other needlework; we feel we did that very well this year at Sarit Centre.

On behalf of our general membership, Neela offered thanks to the Exhibitions Committee, under the capable guidance of Sheryl Fowler, who worked hard and tirelessly to put on such a great show.

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The thinking is that we should hold another exhibition next year at the same venue but during the school term so we can invite schools (May?) but not during Easter or any other religious celebrations.  With Easter coming at different times each year, and schools frequently altering their schedules, this may be a little difficult to organize, but our Exhibition Committee will do their best!

We are also grateful to the Kenya Embroiderers Guild for sharing the hall space with it.  Without this partnership, it is doubtful that the Kenya Quilt Guild could have afforded the space.  We will hold various challenges for our patchwork quilters to undertake during the year to increase the number of quilts made, thus making our contribution to each forthcoming show larger than the previous one.

Prizes were awarded during this exhibition for Viewers Choice and Viewers Choice Second Place.  Sarah Brewin was awarded the trophy by Kundan Pattni and the First Place prize, a lovely crystal bowl, was awarded to Sarah by Neela Shah, for her quilt Mnyama Viatu (Animal Shoes).  Natasha Khromova took Second Place for her quilt Point of No Return.

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All our members should have received the entry forms by email for the “Out Of Africa” Exhibition in London, Ontario, Canada.   It is very important that we receive those quilts as soon as possible.  Drop them at The Woman Shop at the Sarit Centre.  One suitcase will go almost immediately, the remainder will follow around the 9th of May.  In order to co-ordinate the quilts and get them packed safely, we would appreciate your co-operation.  When you drop your quilts, be ensure that they are labelled and that the entry forms are attached to each quilt securely so they do not get lost.

Election of officers was held with the following results:

  • Chairwoman:  Patty Arensen
  • Vice-Chairwoman:  Charu Patel
  • Secreary:  Sheryl Fowler
  • Treasurer:  Loise Gitagia
  • Members-at-Large:  Corinne Talbott and Suzanne Waithaka

Of course, our Immediate Past Chairwoman is Neela Shah, whose experience will be most useful and highly appreciated during the coming year.  Executive Council standing committees will be chaired as follows:

  • Education:   Gill Rebelo
  • Membership:  Kundan Pattni
  • Charity and Community Outreach:  Gretchen Sanders-Mwaura
  • Public Relations:  Jasvinder Phull
  • Library:  Raji Syan
  • Snippets Newsletters:  Margaret Atandi and Surinder Thethy
  • Exhibitions:  Sheryl Fowler (whose seat during Executive Council meetings will be filled by another member of the Committee as Sheryl already serves on Council as Secretary)

The Kenya Quilt Guild thanks those Officers and Committee Chairwomen who served for the last year for all their hard work–it paid off handsomely!–and those who have come forward to assume their new duties for the coming year.  Our gratitude and best wishes to all!

With the Election of Officers out of the way, it was time for show-and-tell:

Finally, Gill Rebelo gave a fine talk on the history of kangas, the ubiquitous brightly coloured cloths worn the length of the East African coast,  from Somalia to Zanzibar and inland, wherever Kiswahili is spoken.

Kangas derive from the Portuguese lenco, a handkerchief or headscarf which became popular in Mombasa and Zanzibar in the 1860s.  It is thought that the early designs were spotted, hence the name kanga, which means guinea fowl in Kiswahili.  Kangas are also known as lesos from the Portuguese lenco.

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Kangas always feature a border (pindo), a central panel with a design (mji) and a Kiswahili proverb or saying (jina).  The jina may give a political message or may be a health warning, against the spread of HIV for example, but often it is a more personal message and frequently one to be exchanged between husband and wife.  It might be wise to get the jina translated before gifting a kanga in case the message is not appropriate, although usually these messages are subtle and can be interpreted in different ways.  Examples of kanga jina can be enjoyed here.

The largest collection of kangas in the world is held by the Erie Art Museum in Canada, which held its first exhibition of kangas in 2008.  There is a strong cultural link between this museum and the Lamu Museum in Kenya.  The British Museum in London has recently had an exhibition of kangas amongst other textiles of eastern and southern Africa.  Barack Obama’s victory kanga, popular after his election as USA President, was one of the kangas featured!  There are plans afoot by the British Museum to make a documentary film on the kanga.  The National Museums of Kenya held a very comprehensive exhibition of kangas last year. and produced an interesting DVD to accompany the exhibition.

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