PAWA 254 is one of the premiere art spaces in the country. Many people know of it, but few know where it is. Getting to PAWA254 is a long journey to me. Located off state house road, getting there from town is literally an uphill task. As exhausting as it is getting there, I like the location of the environment.
There is something amazing about the serene and quiet environment around it. There is no struggle to walk into the gates or pushing people as you walk into the building. Once you get there, the YMCA, which holds the building is very inviting. It’s a place that makes you get in-touch with your inner self and truly enjoy whatever reason brought you there. I get a sense of calmness embrace me when I’m there.
I have been to PAWA 254, several times. But it was always for a meeting that I was running late for and I left as soon as it was done. I didn’t get to enjoy walking around the building as much as I wanted. This all changed when I attended an Fatuma’s voice; a poetry event held there every Friday. I got in early and had time to chat with some people and I liked the look of things. It intrigued me into wanting to know more about it.
The brand name “PAWA254” is derived from two distinct linguistic entities: “Pawa” and “254.” The label Pawa was coined from the English word “Power,” which brings to mind such images as authority, command, intensity and vigour. The number 254 is Kenya’s country telephone code. It suggests patriotism and devotion to causes that are Kenyan. Used together as PAWA254, the words convey the message “Power Kenya,” and symbolize national strength and unity in a context of devotion to Kenya
The idea to set up Pawa 254 was a collective effort but it primarily came from the Director, Boniface Mwangi. He had been very involved in a lot of photography and met people who had skills but no place or means to develop them. He took his winnings from the CNN Africa Photojournalist of the year award and together with a few friends, came up with the space. It was all about bringing together individuals to educate people. To help them improve their skills while learning and teaching others. All this was done with the aim of using the skills as a contribution towards positive social change.
Since it’s inception, PAWA 254 has made a name in being a dynamic content space for artistes to develop and hone their skills while networking. The art industry, in particular photography, music, graffiti and journalism have been ignored and given a negative image. PAWA 254 is at the forefront of changing this. The projects it embarks on are all about social change. They identify issues in society and try to figure out how they can make things better. They try to see how this can be done through development and empowerment. They give the artistes the courage to use their skills for good without letting judgment from society bring them down.
Regular training programmes, workshops, clinics, and photography salons at the space are free of charge and are open to the public. Membership to the hub is open, by application, to creative industry professionals, start ups, SMEs or related individuals or organizations interested in joining the community and working from the space on a regular basis.
Memebership is in 3 different levels: Premium Membership: Kshs. 10,000 Per Month Daily registration: Kshs. 500 and Community Membership which is free. You can get details on how to join on their website here.
PAWA 254 is a place where the theme of bringing positive change resounds at all times. The graffiti on the walls seem to echo this notion. It’s a place where you walk in and leave after learning a few things and get a new perceptive on life around you. The one thing tat seems to be key is that PAWA 254 believes that art holds the key to influencing society.