Maryam chose the word Al Audahuq (the right to return). She is referring to the UN resolution 194 voted in 1948 after the Arab-Israeli war. The Resolution defined principles for reaching a final settlement and returning Palestine refugees to their homes. 70 years after the resolution was voted, Palestinian refugees are still waiting to return. Here in Balata, most refugees come from Jaffa and other cities of the Mediterranean coast, which are now part of Israel.
I painted a fruity pattern specifically because Jaffa is world-famous for its citrus fruit.
The mural is painted on the Jaffa Cultural Center, which is where I’m staying in Balata Camp! It’s the first time I’ve actually painted on “my own house” during a Share The Word Project. .
Mohamed wanted me to paint the word “Palestine”. Unlike many slums and refugee camps I have worked in, the walls of Balata have a lot of tags and graffiti on them. Many of these tags contain messages claiming freedom for Palestine, usualy written in the national colours. When I walked around Balata on the first day I knew straight away that someone was going to ask me to paint “Palestine”. .
Maimuna chose the word YARINTA ( = childhood in Hausa ). Maimuna’s childhood ended prematurely when she got married at the age of 12 and had to leave school. She became pregnant straight away and her first child was born when she was only 13 years old. She regrets not having had a proper childhood and a proper education. Her wish is for all children to be able to go to school until they complete their education and only start a family life afterwards. She hopes society will change in that way.
I just painted this mural inside the “Centre Culturel Jean-Rouch”, the French-Nigerien cultural center based in Niamey, Niger. I’ve been staying here for the last 4 weeks, and have been welcomed so generously by its staff.
Jean Rouch was a French filmmaker and anthropologist who worked a lot in Niger during the 20th century. I painted this for the opening of a new exhibition on the his work called “Jean Rouch, l’aventure continue”. Thank you to Olivia Marsaud for the picture!
“I would like you to paint the word “Sabu” which means “praise be to god” in Zerma. I went to a school set up by the mission during the colonial era and I was a christan like my father. When I got married I became a muslim, but whatever I call my god, and regardless of how I pray, I’ve always thanked god for the life he’s given me. I have 5 children and 6 grandchildren and everyday I say “Sabu”. ” – Yvonne in the slum of Kombo, in Niamey, Niger.
Sourou (=Patience in Zerma) was chosen by Koda La Cadette. “Patience is a necessary vertue here as nothing comes quickly and easily.” It’s the 145th mural I’ve painted as part of Share The Word Project and it’s the first time that the word “Patience” is given to me!
Most walls in the slum of Kombo are made of dried mud. These constructions are often damaged during the wet season, but they are cheap to make and keep the house cooler than corrugated iron. Most of these walls are very rough, but Lampo’s house seemed to have a slightly smoother surface, so I thought I’d give it a go. I asked him for a word and he thought for a while before giving me the word “bani” (=health in Zerma). Health is a huge issue for the population of Kombo especially due to do the high risk of malaria, as well as many other diseases caused by poor hygiene and the consumption of non-drinkable water. Everyday we meet kids who have malaria, and adults who are sick. Lampo and his son Moussa told me that health is the first issue that the community has to address, and development will follow.