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The village of Umoja which means ‘unity’ in Swahili - is a guarded sanctuary for women only.  First founded in 1990 for 15 women who were raped by British soldiers. Now the village has grown and flourished into a safe community for women who are trying to escape an abusive situation. Genital mutilation, sexual assault, domestic violence or child marriage.


Located in Samburu, northern Kenya, the Samburu people are closely related to the Maasai Tribe. There are around 50 women, along with roughly 200 children. Once the male children reach the age of 18 they must leave the village. 

The elders educate the women and girls from surrounding Samburu villages on issues such as early marriage and female genital mutilation. Under the ‘tree of speech’, women gather to make decisions. The community live a humble and safe life under the protection of each other.

Illustrator Wayne Snooze has an impressive way of exhibiting culture, people and places in his body of work. His raw talent, attentive eye and artistic way produces captivating, 'real-life' 'real-people'.

Wayne Snooze's art is refreshing, shining a bright light on people who are not portrayed in the media, or celebrated for their beauty. Culturally, Wayne breaks down social norms and stereotypical ideology.

He has wonderfully created a series of images that questions perception, which asks us to think about the judgements we make on someone before taking the time to understand them or the situation.

What inspires you to create?

That’s difficult, I think it’s a control thing, it’s something I like to do, I used to read a lot of comics when I was very young and I wanted to draw like those guys so I started drawing and haven’t stopped, I want to get better.

As far as themes go, I want to create pictures that are relatable, there’s a lot of stereotypes around which can be helpful when communicating an idea but generally they’re lazy.

What role does the artist have in society?

This is a big question, I think that’s up to the individual, for me it’s to offer a different narrative than what the mainstream is offering. Mainstream culture is often a watered down version of a section of reality, I don’t want to perpetuate that if possible.

If your artwork were music, what would it sound like?

That’s easy, Jazz fusion, some Funk laced with Jazz, like a late 70’s Sesame Street cartoon, or Fritz the cat, Ed Bogas, Roy Ayers, Vince Guaraldi. I suppose I grew up with that stuff.

What is your process to creating a piece of art/project?

I suppose it depends on the projects but generally I use photos’ as reference, I go out and take pics, sometimes I’ll use a magazine image for inspiration and jump off from there. I’ll do rough sketches from the photo and create a composition which is all done on paper, people forget that stuff exists. I scan it into my computer and sharpen it with Photoshop, then take it over to an illustrator to colour it. That's how I do the digital work, other times I may get an idea or an inspiration from a real life situation, observation, or maybe have a discussion that explores the idea further and decide on a medium that will get that idea across. Sometimes it’s a gag comic strip or a highly rendered pencil or Biro drawing.

Do you have a favourite medium?

Yeah, I like pencil and Indian ink on paper, that’s it.

What does your art represent? What are the messages you would like to express?

My Art represents regular people, our experiences have value but we spend so much time trying to align with celebrities which make us feel insecure and our lives seem inferior but what we do is enough, celebrities use the toilet, get sick, watch TV, like we do and if there is any message it’s a simple one, be yourself.

Legendary Brooklyn rapper and producer Masta Ace talks to Culture is Free. With a music career spanning over more than three decades, Masta Ace is truly an iconic contributor who continues to create and share his art. 

Known for his influential hip-hop lyricism, sincerity and all-round love for his fans, it's no wonder he continues to grow with supporters. Culture is Free would like to declare themselves a huge supporter and we salute Masta Ace for his contribution to music and culture! 

What makes you happy and thankful?

My family and health. My wife and daughter are what I'm most thankful for and the fact that I am able be strong and healthy considering my age after all these years.

What in nature inspires you?

Nature’s super foods inspire me! The fact that everything our bodies need to remain healthy and in a state of wellness grows naturally on earth is amazing and inspiring to me.

Tell us about yourself and your art

I currently writing a hip-hop musical in conjunction with a company called Rhymes over beat. It's going to loosely based on my albums Disposable Arts, A Long Hot Summer and The Falling Season.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

I'm still working towards that greatest achievement. Time will tell.

What song best describes your life?

Take a Walk. On that song I play the role of tour guide taking the listener through my neighbourhood in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

If you could build a time machine what time would you travel to?

I would travel forward a hundred years to see if racism, greed and violence was over.  

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