Art & Beauty for Brain Health

Date: Tuesday, 6 February 2024
Time: 4pm (Johannesburg, GMT+2) | 5pm (Nairobi, GMT+3) | 2pm (Accra, GMT)
Duration: 75 – 90 minutes (Online, Zoom)

A healthy brain is essential for optimal cognitive, emotional and behavioural function. Brain Health includes health promotion, strategies to reduce the risk of illness and improve management, the development of brain skills and brain capital. It is an exciting field with the potential to help many people. 

Art, in all its beautiful and cultural forms, has the ability to support brain health in many ways including empowering people who live with illness, creating community, reducing stress and supporting brain skills development.


Welcome: Prof. Andre Mochan
Chair: Kirti Ranchod
Panel Discussion

  1. Nsamu Moonga: The Jagged and the Beautiful; an exploration of the beautiful in life’s jagged contours
  2. Meron Abey: Ethiopian Epiphany ‘TIMKET’ for health and healing
  3. Jane Solomon: Body Mapping – an embodied approach to art-making

Meeting Coordinator: Wambui Karanja

Time: 4pm ( South Africa, CAT, GMT+2)


Nsamu Moonga
Nsamu Moonga, a Zambian-born singer and licensed music therapist, holds a BA in Psychology and an MMT. He serves on multiple international associations and is a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria, where he also lectures, along with the University of Johannesburg. His research focuses on the use of indigenous musical arts for managing anxiety in cancer patients. He has numerous publications, speaks regularly at conferences, and serves on the editorial boards of three journals. His work explores health, lifestyle choices, and psychosocial support, focusing on anti-oppressive practices.

@MoongaNsamu / X (twitter.com)
LinkedIn Nsamu Moonga

Meron Abey

Meron Sisay Abey is an Arts in Health practitioner, with a specific interest in the holistic connection of arts, culture, and health. Meron is a Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health. Since 2018 Meron has been working to promote the role of Arts in non-pharmacological treatments, especially in mental health. She is working to ensure the sector of Arts in Health emerges as a profession in Ethiopia. With the generous support of the Atlantic Fellowship program she has served 246 residents of the only Mental Health and Substance Rehab center in Ethiopia by designing and practicing appropriate Arts in Health activities for therapeutic purposes. Currently, she is working with schools on youth perception and understanding of substance misuse and mental health aiming to develop art interventions to facilitate this.


Jane Solomon

Jane Solomon is an independent designer/artist whose work includes the design of textiles, learning materials, artmaking processes and the facilitation of community-based workshops where creativity is used as a tool for personal transformation and/or to stimulate income generation. For the Long Life project (2002), in collaboration with UCT and MSF, Jane developed and facilitated a body mapping process consisting of a sequence of specifically designed
exercises to assist people living with HIV to tell their life stories and advocate for free anti-retroviral medication for all.

Subsequently, Jane has developed and facilitated many body mapping processes/workshops with people living with HIV, around other issues and needs and as a tool for qualitative, participatory research. Her work is inspired by her underlying belief that creativity can heal and transform our lives.

Prof. Andre Mochan

Prof. Andre Mochan is an Associate Professor in the Division of Neurology, the Clinical Head of Neurology at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital since 2009 and the Academic Head of Neurology in the Department of Neurosciences in the School of Clinical Medicine. He is the current Secretary of the College of Neurology and recent office bearer of the Neurology Association of South Africa (NASA).

In 2014 he established a dedicated multidisciplinary Motor Neuron Disease / Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (MND/ALS) Clinic at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Through the MND/ALS clinic he participates in the drive for genomic research on African ALS patients and is Co-Principal Investigator of the newly launched ALS-Africa NET study employing cutting edge WGS techniques, performed locally, to characterise uncharted genes in ALS. He also is the initiator and Principal Investigator of the South African Neurology COVID-19 database.

Dr. Kirti Ranchod

Dr. Kirti Ranchod is a neurologist from South Africa, Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, co-founder and chair of the Africa Brain Health Network and has served on the board of Alzheimer’s South Africa. She has extensive clinical experience in medicine and neurology. Kirti founded Memorability to make brain health tools accessible, practical and effective including online and in person courses, talks ,and workshops. She runs a series of talks on “Investing in Our Cultural Capital for Better Brain Health’ at the Origins Centre, University of Witwatersrand. She completed a project with REMI East Africa in Uganda to support healthcare workers with practical mental health tools and has run several corporate brain health workshops. Interests include the role of traditional practices and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in promoting health, the neuroscience of art, and understanding the different perceptions of memory.

Wambui Karanja

Wambui Karanja is a psychologist and independent consultant who works in research, advocacy, and caregiving of people with dementia in various African settings. Wambui coordinate the Africa Brain Health Network, an organization that aims to promote awareness of brain health across the lifespan in Africa and beyond. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Kenyatta University, was a graduate attaché at the British Institute in Eastern Africa and researched perceptions of cognitive decline and dementia among informal caregivers. She is an alumnus of Young African Leadership Initiative, (YALI) East Africa, and a global Atlantic fellow for Equity in Brain Health.

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