This blog, about the process creating the brochures for Kilwa Kisiwani & Songo Mnara, is written by Katrina Foxton (prev. of University of York) with contributions from the rest of the CONCH team.
After consulting the communities of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara, and the professionals at the Antiquities offices and Kilwa Island tours, we understood what needed to be done.
We had been asked several times for a leaflet or brochure or in essence, some ‘paper-based’ technology. This was the most required item above others ideas (the other ideas included a new website). A first impression for many of us is that a brochure was quite low-tech compared to other possibilities (the heritage team last created a Twine App in Pangani). However, the benefits of brochures were undeniable; they are easily replicated if photocopied and if properly thought-through, can hold long-lasting information without requiring updates. This would of course be a benefit for the communities at the islands—who currently do not have the infrastructure for digital tools (including electricity). So to deliver something this effective in the short time frame was challenging enough.
We started to consider design ideas (including what size, how many folds in a piece of paper??) and thought up a ‘storyboard’ of what to fit on this piece of paper. The content was inspired by considering the information and perspectives we had learnt in the focus groups.
After the structure was created – very simply an A4 folded into 3 sections, with a front and back -- Sara divided the team into content producers, translators and illustrators.
Sara- oversaw the overall management of the design work
Sinyati - content & translator
Joyce- content & translator
Noel- had malaria*(!) but still provided content and translated.
Meghan – Photoshop/adobe illustrator queen!
Ashley – content & illustrator
Elena- content & illustrator
Kat - illustrator
Stephanie- Critiqued & helped on content, dabbled in illustration
Check out these images of the process:
Benefits & Challenges of the process:
Here are some of the thoughts from the team about the challenges and benefits from creating the brochure:
Ashley: The design constraints we had - two sides of a piece of A4, trifolded, only black and white - were really interesting to work with. It meant that we had to keep things clean and uncluttered, and it really worked to our advantage in the end! The brochure we ended up with is beautifully laid out and will be hugely helpful to everyone who visits the site.
Elena: I found that the biggest challenge was the time constraints. After the surveys and focus groups had been carried out we only had two days to design and produce the leaflets - in both Swahili and English! It was challenging but fun to work under such pressure, and our goals wouldn’t have been achieved without such fantastic teamwork.
Stephanie: I found it really interesting to try and see the sites that I know so well through a tourist’s eyes. Lots of the ways I understood the spaces were incomprehensible to a newbie. I also learnt a lot about trying to write for a non-specialist, mostly meaning simplifying the descriptions into a form that kept the accuracy. My instinct was to fill the brochure with historical information, but instead we worked to create text that would engage visitors.
Kat: For me the benefit was firstly, discovering the Zamani project which I based my drawings on (these were a highly important resource). And secondly having chance to stretch my illustrating skills … which was also the challenge. I draw artistically. So I will scribble down five lines where a skilled illustrator will place one. But it was worth the challenge (as was the aching hand).
End product & going forward:
You can view our final brochure designs for Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara (please click here to see brochure designs).We have sent the printed brochures to Kilwa. We are also working with the Department of Antiquities on web content about the site and have a long wishlist from the local community that we are going to do our best to fulfil.
* Noele is fully recovered now. There are two strands of malaria and he had the weaker one which essentially gives you flu-like symptoms.