‘SuperGrannies of Korogocho’ by Tobin Jones documents a group of elderly women who are proudly breaking the bias. These elderly women won’t let any preconceived perceptions get in the way of their drive towards self-empowerment. They’ve taken back control and turned something which was a very bad situation into a movement which is widely supported and celebrated. This striking set of images is now live as a collection of 12 NFTs, with 10% of proceeds going to the subjects.
The metaverse is swiftly expanding in front of our very eyes and as we watch this new exciting world grow it’s becoming increasingly apparent that a bias exists. A survey reported by Bloomberg and conducted by Art Tactic showed that male investors buy cryptocurrency at more than twice the rate of female investors, and even more staggeringly, women only represent at least 5% of all NFT art sales against men who hold at least 77%. 16% is marked as gender unknown, with the remaining 2% sold by collectives
We are aware that crypto isn’t the only area which finds itself broadcasting these kinds of stats but much like the #SuperGrannies, many women in the blockchain industry are working hard to turn this ship around. We’re starting to see a rise of women-led projects working to actively encourage the upsurge of women in the industry, both from the perspective as subjects and collectors. Projects such as ‘World of Women NFT’, ‘Boss Beauties’, ‘WomenRise’ and ‘Women and Weapons NFT’ are doing an outstanding job at breaking the bias.
With the ‘SuperGrannies of Korogocho’, Tobin also strives to support this cause. He has chosen to document the grannies with the intention to help these elderly women stand up against their bias. In a recent interview, Jones fervently shares that he will be personally delivering the funds raised from this project directly to the grannies in Nairobi.
“Jane is one of the youngest members of the group and also their main instructor. While physically able to defend herself with her hands, she also carries a small sharpened knife she keeps on herself at all times in case of attack. Despite the group’s purpose – to learn and train in self defence – at heart she is a peaceful woman and much prefers when the group is singing and dancing.”
Many women of Shoso Jikinge (the secret society of Kung-Fu grannies) carry concealed weapons as they navigate the streets. The idea of these elderly women holding weapons feels unusual. This ‘unusual’ feeling is an amalgamation of surprise that the women would need to carry a weapon and also that the elderly women feel confident enough to use one if required.
Sara Baumann, artist of the NFT collection ‘Women and Weapons NFT’ plays upon this unusual feeling within her own work in order to purposefully bring forth a conversation on why a bias exists.
“Why does it make you uncomfortable? But James Bond holding the weapon doesn’t?”
The project is designed to catalyse conversations around equity, representation and double standards. In an interview with Coindesk, Baumann explains that she uses the imagery to symbolise the weapons women carry in their day-to-day life.
In conversation with the #SuperGrannies, most explain they don’t enjoy participating in fighting but the skill is necessary to defend themselves from the dark dangers that lurk at night in the slum. Korogocho is tiny, only a few square kilometers in size, yet inhabited by about 200,000 people. Conditions are very tight. The streets are packed with gangs, crime, addiction and poor mental health. It would be tough for anybody to live in that kind of environment, but it’s especially tough for these elderly women who feel particularly vulnerable and, sadly, self-defense seems to be the only solution to protect them from the danger.
“Nduta may lack intimidation, but don’t be fooled. By using her walking stick as her primary weapon Nduta makes herself a tricky target for anyone trying to hurt her. Being an old woman living in the slum without a family can be difficult and lonely, which is why Shoso Jikinge is so important to women like Nduta.”
The group isn’t only valuable for teaching the grannies skills of self-defense, but also it offers the women a place to socialise and support each other. They meet every week and for some, it’s an excuse to meet up with other women with similar interests. The women aren’t naive to think the problem is completely eradicated but they are certain that the number of attacks are dropping and this brings them a great sense of accomplishment and honour.
The empowerment these women embody is inspiring to any lady, but also to any other individual up against a challenging preconceived perception. They teach us that stereotypes aren’t there to control us, they’re there to be broken. We hope this collection will encourage women to get out there, take risks, be bold and be brave.