In Knowing The Way To Tomorrow, I see an ode to the rural women who play a significant role in their African communities to collect clean water for their families amidst the insurmountable challenges they have to face on a daily basis. Muluneh celebrates their unending desire to keep life going; the vessels symbolize their dedication to “giving life,” a notion that has always been linked to women.
The piece also resonates with me as access to clean, sustainable water is a privilege in rural communities in my home country, Uganda. I grew up in a distant town, many kilometers out of the city center, and this has been my lived experience. Water scarcity is a glaring reality that I was subject to and one that we must confront with the attention it deserves. Knowing The Way To Tomorrow is advocating for just that, for access to clean water in my community.
The women of the image speak to me on a deeper level, too. While one woman is standing at the peak of the hill, the other sits on the downward slope, seemingly tired and frustrated; one hopeful, the other hopeless. Not that I have achieved my greatest desires, but just like the characters in the piece, I’m still on the journey, carrying my empty jerry cans, hoping against hope to get “water” someday.
As a Black person, in light of the recent global events of the Black Lives Matter campaign, including protests in demand for justice over George Floyd’s tragic death, I’ve been seeking refuge in Muluneh’s work. Her breathtakingly vibrant subjects encourage us to unapologetically embrace our identities. She advocates for a society where everyone has access to equal opportunity.
Knowing The Way To Tomorrow has become an obsession for me. It’s a reminder that there’s hope; an ode to the brave humans who are putting their best feet forward to make this world better. It’s a celebration of bravery and boldness to conquer the things that seem impossible; a clarion call for reevaluating our priorities in the face of the society we want to live in.