I am Karachi' Celebrating Diversity.
Ask any Karachiite what they think of their city and they will tell you there is no city quite like this one. One would be hard-pressed to find a Karachiite who doesn't feel a close affinity with the city, in spite of the problems that plague the metropolis. Many Karachiites find themselves directionless when they want to follow a path for the better of the city.
This is where the I am Karachi' festival comes in. A city-wide movement led by the civil society and the people of the city, I am Karachi aims to help citizens get a feel for their city and restore peace and harmony.
This year's campaign kicked off with a week-long youth festival at the Arts Council in March where people between the ages of 15 and 29 were encouraged to participate in various competitions, ranging from photography to theatre and from singing to essay writing.
Apart from promoting young talent, the I am Karachi campaign also aims to reclaim the city's public spaces while increasing public awareness and promoting advocacy. By reclaiming public spaces, the campaign hopes to encourage dialogue and cultural and artistic endeavours in the city. Thus, special attention was paid to World Theater Day in the campaign marked by various performances (including two short plays, skits and patriotic songs), all held at the Arts Council.
The Karachi Day planned at Frere Hall on April 26 was dedicated to activist Sabeen Mahmud who was shot dead on April 24 outside The Second Floor (T2F), a project she had started to create an open space for people where they could share their ideas. Karachi Day was a conclusion to I am Karachi's activities geared to the reclamation of public spaces (recycling, city cleaning and tree plantation). The heritage building featured food stalls, I am Karachi merchandise corners, selfie booths, a pledge canvas and a play area for children. The most fascinating aspect of the event was the I Am Karachi' map, which was an apt depiction of the diversity of Karachi. The areas in Karachi were marked in numbers on the map and people were asked to put a sticker on the area where they live. It turned out that the crowd had showed up from as far as Gadap Town, Lyari, Korangi and Orangi Town.
Meanwhile, the second episode of the I am Karachi Youth Festival was scheduled to begin in the last week of May. Registration forms for participants had been made available online and people who could take part in various competitions were divided into ten categories. Training workshops were also arranged for participants to further hone their skills and provide equal opportunities to youth from all over the city.
Through the movement, said a spokesperson of the campaign, one hopes Karachi's lost glory could be restored and the city could once again become the hub of performing arts, culture, theatre and dialogue a testament to the city's diversity and togetherness.