Going High for Usanii


Usanii is the Swahili word for artistry. It was founded in 2020 with aim of promoting and creating a platform for artists from underprivileged backgrounds to get recognized by the world and also allowing them to collaborate with already established artists by working together to produce each monthly issue of the magazine. Each issue of Usanii magazine has at least 3 artists from different fields of the arts, namely music, photography, poetry, fashion, film, videography and more.


The idea of Usanii magazine started in the year 2018 by a music teacher/artist who comes from the humble beginnings of the Kawangware slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Seeing that there was no medium or platform to not only get him noticed but also educated, he decided to start Usanii magazine with nothing but a pen and paper. It took two years for the full vision of the magazine to be realized and so in April of 2020 the first issue of Usanii magazine was released.


Usanii magazine is operated from an Internet café by one individual, Lai. He does the interviews, the graphic design work, the social media and everything in between, all this without as much as a laptop or even a personal computer. Usanii magazine is a free magazine that is meant to reach as many people as possible so as to make sure the stories of each artist featured on the magazine is told. Kenya's licensing restrictions doesn't allow for artists to be able to crowdfund in the way the USA does. 

The money will enable him to be able to buy equipment, hire staff and grow the magazine to what we know it can be. Usanii magazine aims to be a voice for artists not just in Kenya but globally and we need your support to be exactly that. A publication that does not rely on gossip and slander but on good journalism, moving stories and one that creates training and opportunity for all those who require it.  

Additionally, 35% of the funds will be divided into donations for selected arts/media organizations that contribute to spreading the word about this fundraiser. Once the goal is met, a short application will go out for organizations with a strong vision and plan but need funds for essential resources. That list will be publicized shortly after.

LAI’S STORY (The Founder)

Lai is an actor, musician and music teacher based in Nairobi. Born in the Kawangware slums of Nairobi, Lai started his life in the arts in 2007 when he joined the Kenyan boy's choir. In 2008 he travelled to the United States for the first time with the choir to perform and he discovered what it is that he wanted to do. In the years that came his resolve to plunge into the arts and use it for social good and change only grew. Despite not having resources or access to resources, he used what was available to him - his ability to teach music and an internet cafe in his neighborhood. 

In 2016, he was part of a duo that walked 400 km to raise awareness against domestic violence. He considers this one of his greatest achievements. In 2018 he got the idea of Usanii magazine but because of limited resources, he began the magazine in April 2020.  Even with limited resources still, he continues to run Usanii magazine from an internet cafe, writing stories, designing the magazine and everything else needed to run the magazine even in the midst of  a pandemic. 

Lai met Xochitl when they were both part of the 2020 Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators Forum. Since, 2014 the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in “hub” communities in more than 20 cities and regions around the world. To learn more please visit this page. 

USE OF FUNDS (Please reach out for more specifics)

The funds will be used in the following ways physically and virtually:

1. The purchase of Equipment to that will equip the Usanii team with the necessary tools to really be effective in our storytelling.

2. To hire staff members to assist the founder with the necessary and technical know how that is required to run a magazine. i.e graphic designers, videographers and writers.

3. To equip the team with funds that will be used to carry out workshops to support, educate and train under resourced artists.

4. To create the necessary frameworks to feature more artists from around the world and produce magazine issues that are relevant to each community. 

For full images please visit links at the bottom. If you'd like more information feel free to contact [email redacted] or [email redacted]
Issue 1 

Issue 2 

Issue 3 

Issue 4 

Issue 5


  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Faye Hobson 
    • $45 
    • 1 mo
  • Josh Wilde 
    • $10 
    • 1 mo
  • Kaoru Kumagai 
    • $10 
    • 1 mo
  • Lauren M Rossi 
    • $45 
    • 1 mo

Fundraising team: Team (F)antastic (2)

Xochitl Calix 
Detroit, MI
Moira LikeAmirror Villiard 
Team member
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