By Mwaniga Gloria Minage.
As President Kibaki was busy receiving an Ipad from the CEO of Safaricom Mr. Bob Collimore and some chaps in rural Kenya awaited for a song from their Deity, one Saint Luka on a hill somewhere out there, a large number of creatives, poets, poetry lovers and bloggers in skinny jeans, tights, dresses and casual weekend wear were down at Safaricoms’ Michael Joseph center, creative throats perched in eager expectation of good poetry and music.
Being the first time I was attending the Wamathai Spoken word evening, I was there quite on time. The huge room, with traditional lesso covered seats was quite a sight and the color mix up of ethnic and foreign dresses assured me that I was in for quite an artsy treat. The subtle lighting added to the poet-ness of the evening and I sat down amongst friends to indulge my ears.
The flowe-try veteran El Poet was first on stage speaking on his favorite topic, socialism, war and development in Africa in a fast and rhythmic manner.
The event continued with a number of performances from other poets like Jemedari, Ngatia Julie and Bobby Mureithi.
The comely Raya Wambui did a powerful piece called ‘Stand up and Fight for me’ based on the Post election Violent that rocked Kenya in 2007-2008.
Hilarious Man Njoro had a piece for the ecstatic crowd on how to make three million in three months, Kenyan style.
The mood of the event changed as we delved into some soothing music from Dempsey n the boys and the guests were allowed to go round looking at the professionally taken exquisite photo exhibits by KOA, a photographer based in Nairobi. We also got a taste of the sumptuous food and snacks being sold at the back as we went round the spacious room rubbing shoulders with Nairobi’s finest bloggers.
Savvy Kenya was there, Adelle was there, Ken Miseda of Miseda news too, Kavosa the poet who according to one of the event emcee Stella Nasambu, was writing poetry when the rest of us were busy applying makeup(i.e. during her early teens) was there too.
Storymoja publishers were at the event, represented by the lovely Winnie who was encouraging the literature lovers to join their start a library movement and help kids in public schools access text books.
The poetry then proceeded with a lovely piece from an extremely enthused Wangare performing a brilliant piece on the revolution in the Middle East called This Revolution Will Be Televised. For a moment, I was momentarily transported into Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Her second piece, One Thousand Words was inspired by Boniface Mwangi’s Photography of Kenya Burning.
Njeri Wangare aka Kenyan Poet’s piece on the changing technology revealed her tech loving self just as she self-describes on twitter as a technology lover. I also saw her autograph a few copies of her published book for some enthused buyers.
The comely Mwende honored her friends involved in the Sudan Revolt in her piece ‘The Ground’.
Wamathai, who apparently never performs at the event, did two pieces the first being about him trying to vibe this pretty chick he was sitting next to in a Matatu; The second being Oluoch Madiang’s ‘Lord My Woman Is Talking’ that was performed on request from some the people in the audience.
To cap off the show, Moraa Onsango then crooned to us some lovely soft rock music in a one man guitar fashion before the Sisi Kwa Sisi Dancers danced the evening away and Ndila sent us off with a wonderful rendition of Mr.Jailer.
As I walked off the MJ center at about half past eight that night, I knew for sure that I had witnessed a part of the changing youth culture in Kenya. A few years back, one wouldn’t think that poetry, or spoken word had any place outside the 844 system of education. Being there, in a place where almost all the attendees had learnt about the event on social media and actually shown up, I was, and still is convinced that the future of art, poetry and music in the present Kenya is getting brighter and brighter and that social media is really creating a platform for interconnectivity in this country where fifteen years ago, you had to write a letter to your relative who wasn’t living in the same city as you.