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Photo Credit: Nyadak Ajawin

The flavoring that the Baobab House adds to the cultural scene of South Sudan remains unmatched. It is a hybrid of art, design, entertainment, and personality, fused to create a hub of identity, beauty, and presence.

Set in a modernized mid-70s townhouse in the neighborhood of Buluk in Juba, The Baobab House came to life when Abul Oyay, who is the owner and a renowned artist herself, decided to permanently move back to South Sudan to establish a museum of modern art and a performing arts space where cultural diversity can be showcased and represented among all South Sudanese communities and ethnic groups.

Photo Credit: Nyadak Ajawin

The Baobab House/Gallery is named after the Baobab Tree which is generally referred to as the “Tree of Life” and commonly used in many traditional African remedies and folklore. In addition to the rich background of the Baobab, the tree itself grows in the compound; hence the naming of the Gallery.

Photo Credit: Sam Photogrpahy

The Baobab Gallery mainly serves as the home for Abul’s artwork. where she creates, showcases, and assembles works for art. In addition to her own art, the gallery also showcases art from different artists, ranging from paintings, books, magazines, and handmade products. Furthermore, the Baobab has created a hub for people to host events in a friendly space with several amenities available at hand. Within the premises, catering is available for those who would like to utilize the service for their event, and sometimes, you might even find Abul making these meals for you herself.

Photo Credit: Nyadak Ajawin

The Gallery has its own flagship events that have helped catapult the space into a favorite for the masses from different groups and backgrounds. Some of the regular events are:

A Monthly Flea Market: the market offers mostly local artists an opportunity to showcase their crafts and products and engage visitors and customers to learn more about South Sudanese products and directly support them.

Wine and Canvas: The monthly to bi-monthly event is an opportunity for participants to come and express their artistic skills and interact with fellow participants in different sessions while sipping on wine or any other drink of choice (non-alcoholic drinks are available too). Although Wine and Canvas is an open space, it is curated in a manner where Abul is able to interact with all participants and provide guidance, encouragement, and thought-provoking ideas that will support them in fulfilling their art goals for the sessions.

Art Clinics: The Baobab conducts Art Clinics where participants use art for therapy, expression, and communication. Since its launch last year, several art clinics have been held and the sessions have included people from within Juba as well as from other states who have learned about the power of art in healing, communication, and how it can be incorporated into our daily lives for people of all ages.

Exhibitions: at the core of the Baobab’s mission, exhibitions are hosted quite frequently.

Exhibitors come from within the country and also across the region & continent to showcase at the gallery and often times, the artists stay for the entire exhibition period which provides an occasion for visitors to directly interact with them on their artistry. The most recent event showcased Allan Godi (a South Sudanese artist based in Uganda) and Kenyan Artist, Sogallo.

Beyond the Baobab’s very own offerings; some of the recurring events that you can find happening at the Baobab include: -

The Crescent Chronicles Show: a cumulative art show that includes poetry, comedy, and painting which happens on a monthly basis and is conducted by an art collective known as the Anyanya Art.

Book launches and signings: just recently, Professor Taban Lo-Liyong launched his latest book, “After Troy” at the Baobab. Prof. Lo-Liyong is a renowned writer who has been writing for over 50 years and is one of the first South Sudanese writers to publish internationally.

The Baobab has truly lived up to its roots and background as the “Tree of Life” by way of continuing to provide a breathtaking space for culture, artistic expression, and community innovation to happen, with artists and visitors learning and interacting in familiar and unfamiliar areas. The fusion of creating a very well-curated space that brings in a little bit of everything- including fun- while ensuring that the output remains beneficial and possibly life-changing on a long-term scale is a skill that hasn’t been mastered by many. Abul & her team continue to take risks and, leap over hills & obstacles to ensure that we continue to improve, promote, and solidify the cultural and artistic space in South Sudan which in its own right is availing itself to us daily.

Photo Credit: Nyadak Ajawin

The Baobab House is open for all (as visitors, curators, artists, or people who look for a space to host an event or out of plain curiosity).

Location: Buluk, right after the Embassy of the Republic of Sudan and the Buluk Eye Clinic.

Operating Hours: 8 am – 10 pm on a daily basis. Time and access may be adjusted in the case of an event. For more information, follow @the_baobabhouse on Instagram

Nyadak Ajawin

Nyadak is a South Sudanese Peace and Conflict Practitioner who loves to write about life, wonders and everyday things. Nyadak has a passion for people, experiences and being an active citizen of her country, Africa and the world at large. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram (@nyadak_maya).