The Walls of Peace initiative was what set I AM KARACHI apart. When we began as a movement, this was our identity. With the Peace Walls IAK chose to say no to hatred, intolerance and vandalism of public property.
Many people might be mistaken but early on it was seen as an admirable effort; a group of people come to tarnished walls and paint over the hate filled graffiti with colourful images of peace and love. It was more than that though. This was developed as a forum where artists, artisans, civilians and organizations could come together to reject a mind-set. A mind-set that harboured nothing but ill will towards the people and places of Karachi.
In partnership with Vasl Artists Collective, the target was to convert hundreds of walls across the city into creative visual landmarks. In two years alone, IAK has reclaimed close to 3000 Walls across the city, but not on its own. It wasn’t our objective to just introduce colour into the city but to educate; the main purpose was to motivate the everyday man to stand tall for their rights and to say no to racism and violence.
The Walls then, became a canvas that the people used to represent their newfound awareness. AN awareness of the responsibility that they had towards the public spaces of this city and an open-mindedness that allowed them to embrace diversity.
Now two years and counting, the Walls have become so much more. The ripple effect that this has induced has been heartening, with movements popping up all over Pakistan, reclaiming walls with the greatest aplomb. Be it the 3D Walls at Mahmood Ghaznavi Park in Gulshan-E-Iqbal or the Oriental & Miniature Art at MT Khan Road, the Karachi Ka Qaida at Rustombagh or the Stencils at Isa Nagri, school children art at Mama Parsi or the portraits at Karachi Press Club the walls have now officially been called a cultural heritage site.
Students, artists, media personnel, everyday citizens now flock to these sites to pay homage to the reminder that the city is ours to keep.