I am Karachi is an initiative focused in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, working to spread a message of peace, tolerance, and ownership to the inhabitants of its city. The initiative promotes its values through projects such as street art, music festivals, a youth peace summit and innovation challenges. Through the projects, I am Karachi not only engages the citizens and inhabitants of Karachi in the up-keep and conscious shaping of their city, but also gives the surrounding world an opportunity to get a glimpse of a peaceful, artistic and inclusive side of Pakistan. Here are two of their most well-known projects.
I am Karachi Music Festival
The 6 day long 2015 I am Karachi Music Festival took place in August this year. The festival hosted several music dialogues and workshops, provided mentorship programs for aspiring musicians, and culminated in a 30 hour long concert, featuring around 60 artists, at the end of the week. The festival was a huge success and was praised for its tribute to the historical glory of Karachi as a Pakistani music hub, and for its revival of the contemporary Karachi music scene. Although most attendees were Pakistani, the festival became an international representation of the modern cultural scene in Pakistan.
Re-imagining the Walls of Karachi
The by far most well-known initiative by I am Karachi is the street art project ‘Re-imagining the Walls of Karachi’, which has contributed to the art that now decorates the city’s walls and houses. Although graffiti, writings and drawings on city walls have been a recurring phenomenon throughout the history of Karachi and Pakistan as a whole, the works have traditionally been inspired by political and occasionally hostile agendas. But that is where I am Karachi stepped in to encourage change and a reclamation of the city walls. Through this project, political and negative messages have been replaced by vibrantly colored birds, geometrical patterns and cultural motifs. Where there was once separating politics, there is now a display of the uniting and unique imagination of the Karachi people. ‘Re-imagining the Walls of Karachi’ has become a public exhibition of a desire for peace, cultural inclusion and a celebration of artistic traditions in Pakistan.
These are only two of the many projects that I am Karachi works on to promote the reshaping of the Pakistani and international view of Karachi. Their projects are messages of hope, peace and engagement, and show the true imagination, drive and passion of the people of Karachi. The initiative has also inspired like-minded projects across the country, including big cities like Lahore.