Organized by the Njabala Foundation, the Njabala This Is Not How exhibition presents works by eight women artists reflecting on the themes of memory, love, womanhood, and activism. Using art to speak to repressive roles and rules of living for women, the exhibition seeks to re-enact a revised and contemporary function of Njabala’s mother in the Njabala folklore.
Artists: Lilian Nabulime, Immy Mali, Bathsheba Okwenje, Miriam Watsemba, Sandra Suubi, Pamela Enyonu, Sarah Nansubuga and Esteri Tebandeke.
The Njabala lore has a handful of lessons and inspiration to the present-day feminism, and we hope to unfold one lesson within each edition of what will become a long-term project of the Njabala Foundation. At the centre of the Njabala folklore are two women: Njabala and her mother. While Njabala is represented as a lazy and obnoxious wife, her mother saves the day by frequenting Njabala’s matrimonial home, to teach her how housekeeping is done.
By suggesting the title, Njabala: This Is Not How, the exhibition proposes not just one way of doing as suggested by Njabala’s mother but a diversity of choices and decision making for women. As a starting point, we are interested in interrogating the glorification of the silent suffering woman. In many societies in Uganda, silence is disguised and applauded as good conduct. How dare women talk about rape, gender violence without being blamed for inviting or inciting the violence! The exhibition subverts all tendencies of silence and silencing through bold installations, text, poetry, film, photography, and sound.
The most important objective of this exhibition is to establish an energetic and productive public forum for exploring new possibilities of social deconditioning, especially by encouraging feminine interactions through verbal and nonverbal dialogue. Each of the artists featured in the show will present an intimate narrative of a specific experience. Collectively, they will converge to extend the space of femininity in society and assert that women too can be custodians of their identity.
The exhibition Njabala This Is Not How marks the official launch of the Njabala Foundation which was founded in August 2021. Njabala Foundation is a multi-faceted campaign sourcing inspiration from a popular Ugandan myth of Njabala to facilitate conversations on womanhood in a Ugandan cultural framework as well as create safe spaces for women artists to blossom. The opening ceremony will be accompanied by several presentations by women creatives in the Ugandan and international art scene.