- Before every session, the core team, comprising five women, conceptualises a theme.
- The theme can cover social life, work life or issues affecting creatives & thinkers.
- Quiz nights are the most light-hearted sessions and are a great break in between discussions.
What would happen in a world where each of us first existed only as a bodiless creature comprising a brain and a soul and then, in the afterlife, gained our bodies?
Nyacomba Githu, the founder of Free Mind Sessions, imagines that we would be more tolerant and not judge people for superficial reasons: “If we were just souls with a brain, we would be more accepting of one another. We would be connecting.”
That is the community Githu hopes to create through Free Mind Sessions.
Mark Muchiru, who attended one of the eight monthly sessions this season, says, “A free minded person is someone who has let go of other people’s perceptions. All of the things that hold them back personally. So whether that is how society, friends, family, judge them and their choices... It’s when they can let that go and make their own decisions in life and do what makes them happy.”
Before every session, the core team, comprising five women, conceptualises a theme which can cover social life, work life or issues affecting creatives & thinkers.
They plan the exploration of these themes through different forms, such as panels where experts discuss an issue such as politics and have a Q&A session afterwards.
They could also be creative workshops where attendees get a chance to rotate from table to table and learn different skills such as painting, drawing, jewellery making and signwriting.
Quiz nights are the most light-hearted sessions and are a great break in between discussions with heavy themes such as Biashara and female empowerment.
Many polarised spaces such as Trump-era US and post-Brexit UK could learn from Free Mind’s model.
Similarly, Kenya grows more polarised everyday with the apparent either-or of the opposition and the government.
Muchira attended the Kenya in Transition panel conversation right before the country’s double-election period.
He observed: “Kenya is coming to a very crucial time right now with the election in about a week. And I think it is good for us to get ourselves out of our bubbles and share and have dialogue.”
Free Mind Sessions hopes to be the middleman and provide a space where Kenyans can engage with each other outside of small friend groups, bursting the bubble of family WhatsApp groups and the social media timelines of like-minded people.
“Break down the jail you put yourself in as a person so that you can also see other opinions in a more transparent way,” says Githu.
At the Alchemist, where many of the monthly sessions have been held, the colourful cushions are a little reminiscent of reggae colours and Githu’s words bring to mind Bob Marley’s “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”
“Why do people always put their theses on a shelf?” Githu asks.
Kenyans have been critical of schools' emphasis on theoretical learning rather than practical application.
Additionally, the University of Nairobi, where Githu studies Art & Design, faced interruptions throughout last year due to a lecturers' strike and police harassment amidst fears of election-related protests.
Githu's school project birthed Free Mind Sessions.
“I named it Free Mind because I was making a clothing line based on this thesis I had written about people being very close-minded and very scared,” says Githu.