This project is supported through the Cultural Export Fund

Sarah Mallia

EAST, The East African Soul Train, is a travelling residency on East Africa’s historic train tracks that bring together artists, cultural managers, passengers and stakeholders from the regional creative sector. This unique journey encourages participants to collaborate across disciplines and foster meaningful conversations around building a sustainable community-built creative industry.  

EAST 2017 brought together 40 artists - 20 from Kenya and 20 from other East African countries; eight master class artists, two international artists, five stakeholders, one researcher, 20 passengers and a film team to document the journey.

The journey started with two days of workshops at the railway station in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. It then continued with around 20 hours of creation and production on the moving train dubbed ‘The Lunatic Express’ which runs along a historic route, to the coastal city Mombasa. The residency ended in the small coastal town Kilifi, at the idyllic Distant Relative’s Backpackers. The installation performances, presented on the fourth day of the residency, beautifully demonstrated the value of bringing artists, master class artists and an artistic director from across East Africa, and beyond, on board. The interdisciplinary productions featured fashion, poetry/spoken word, dance, visual arts, film/photography, beat/music production and music. Importantly, new regional and international collaborations were formed during the journey and are expected to continue to grow.

Photos by Jude Clark.