Bonface Beti

Expressive Arts for Social Change and Peacebuilding

Meet Bonface...

Expressive Arts for Social Change and Peacebuilding, MA Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manitoba

“Expressive Arts as a therapeutic study incorporates a multiplicity of arts. We call it intermodality. I see myself more as a storyteller, and merging that with conflict analysis, conflict interventions, trauma, awareness and healing.”

- Bonface Beti, Expressive Arts Social Change & Peacebuilding Director

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Bonface Njeresa Beti (he/him) is an international artist, peacebuilder and educator who engages in theatre-based interventions with individuals and communities to create a story of peace. He integrates expressive tools in significant issues as a language for social justice, decolonization, and structural transformation. 


He completed a double major BA degree in Counselling psychology and Communication with a minor in theatre studies at Daystar University in Kenya.  After graduating, he worked as a storyteller in theatre with communities impacted by violent extremism, gender-based violence, and all other forms of violence. His work took him to neighbouring Somalia and South Sudan. He has hosted workshops with global members of the Expressive Arts Association in the USA, Canada and South Africa.


In 2012, he was invited to Canada to share his experiences. He decided to extend his visit and complete an MA degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Manitoba. He is currently working on his Ph.D. at the same University while attending the European Graduate School in Switzerland, where he’s pursuing an advanced certificate in Expressive Arts and Conflict Transformation.


“The link between therapy and structural change is critical because individual well being is just as fantastic as structural wellbeing. We don't heal in isolation and we don't heal in disconnection.” 


Welcoming Wheat (1)

“What draws me to WHEAT is that the social justice construct informs all the Institute's programs. While the big picture can often be overwhelming, focusing on small things, such as interpersonal relationships and daily interactions, through a social justice mindset significantly impacts peace in our outer worlds and structures,” says Bonface. He has witnessed this in his grassroots work in North East and East Africa. 

“It is this intrinsic link between therapy (individual healing) and structural change in families, communities, corporations and councils, and opposed factions, implemented through a social justice lens, that opens up the imagination to new possibilities and solutions,” says Bonface. “WHEAT uses the medium of expressive art in which this transformative process can take place.”


“I am excited to work with my WHEAT colleagues—a diverse team of global teachers and instructors—to create programs that professional people can use as foundational across all spectrums of their everyday life.”


“As an advocate for social justice, I use expressive art as a language to metaphorically address the complexity of social conflict.  This language conveys a hidden meaning—usually moral, spiritual, or political—through allegorical, fantastical or symbolic characters and events.”


“The expressive arts call on the imagination. To evoke imagination, you have to be curious. Curiosity, in turn, can provoke risk-taking, and risk-taking results in creativity. It is in this vulnerable space that we can meet each other. In essence, this is what WHEAT is committed to, and as a peacemaker, it is what I am committed to”, says Bonface.


Expressive art means different things to different people and the field is relatively new. I am an expressive artist and I am also a peacebuilder. Whether you're talking about anti-oppressive practices, or trauma informed practices, or you're thinking about dealing with issues of gender based violence or any forms of oppression, think about the frame of what justice means. The motivation for my work comes from the complexity of all of that. I am an advocate for social justice and the Expressive Arts becomes the medium for symbolizing and metaphorizing the complexity of social conflict. 



Bonface’s ancestry is of the Indigenous Maasai people who migrated to Luhyaland and became part of the inhabitants of Western Kenya. He was the youngest of a family of ten growing up with parents who were typically older than most, but he says “the benefit of having older parents is that they had the wisdom of grandparents with a profound historical “lived” wisdom of their Indigenous culture and knowledge of their ancestral environment.” He goes on to say, “They understand, from listening to the song of the birds, when it is safe or unsafe to leave the village.”

Bonface describes his parents as living between the Indigenous world and the encroaching western world. His parents' identity crises opened his heart to inquire about the relationship between the risk of change and transformative possibilities.


Part of the Maasai land where Bonace is from includes the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi city. The name Nairobi comes from Maasai word of Enkare Nairobi which means the place of cold waters.