My Art chronicles – Poetry, Chimurenga show & ‘Africa Writes Back’ Book launch

The last couple of weeks have been rather hectic for me with some official changes here and there. I have found myself going for days without even a stopover at this artistic space, to only view and at least gather some inspiration, Its not like my well of arts ran dry- this is hardly the case. I only wish I had palmtop or one of those very portable ,internet enabled devices which come in very handy when one is only idle/free in a mat, stuck in traffic waiting to get to their destination(be it office or home)Well, I will give you a rundown of the last 1 week and what I have been up to.


Last Thursday – 11th September, Wasanii Place, Kenya National Theater

I would never have known about this event which is to become a monthly one, were it not for Dennis Inkwa who asked if I too, was in the performing poets’ program for that event. This was on Tuesday. He could tell by the blank look on my face that I had no clue what he was talking about. Well, he also didn’t have all the details and only knew that Khainga Okwemba had joined Imagine Kenya as the Poetry Editor and he had come up with a forum for artists (read poets, musicians, and thespians) to be held at the Wasanii place.

Well, I finally got all the details from Khainga though I barely made it.
The event whose MC was the lovely Kingwa Kamencu had a huge turnout taking in mind that it was the first of its kind. Oh! And invites were sent out very late, as Renee of Imagine Kenya later told me. The poets in the house were, Obala, Dennis, Mike Kwambo, Khainga, Yudia, Neema and many others I got to see perform.
Watch this space for info on the next one, most likely to be on the 2nd Thursday of the month. Oh! Yours truly will be in the list of featured poets.

Friday 12th – Queen Mashie @ Alliance and Rhythm & Spoken, Dass Restaurant
I was behaving like the proverbial hyena, not wanting to miss any of the two events that happened to be on the same Friday.
Being a big fan of Oliver Mtukudzi, I had to go watch Mashie who had been one of his backup singers for quite some time until she decided to venture out on her own.
I found Juma Tutu on stage belting out some relaxing blend of Jazz and chakacha with his Saxophone. I first got to hear his music during the 2006 spotlight on Kenyan Music concerts at the same venue where his hit of Nakupenda Kama Sukari won the hearts of many revealers. It was recorded, together with other spotlight hits into an album titled, Spotlight on Kenyan Music 2006. Juma performs every Wednesday evening at Fridays.
Queen Mashie was up on stage next with her band. Her music, a cocktail of Zimbabwean beats, Lingala, southern Africa had danceable beats and her Kiswahili was perfect.
Had to dash to Dass for the poetry and so I was sad to leave Mashie’s halfway. It’s a pity that her show was not that well attended. I hope Soundafrica is doing some post mortem analysis of that.
At Dass, I was right on time to catch Elena, a quartet band that is very new to the performing scene.

Their style is Neo-Afro fusion with songs in English, Swahili, Dholuo and abit of Congolese (I seem to have forgotten those few learnt words that meant – raise your hands in the air).This is one group to watch out for!! Truly talented and their voices blend so smooth like a hot knife on butte.(ok, I think am hungry)
It seemed like poets had gone into hiding or had succumbed to the week’s strains as there was only a handful of poets. There were however some Hip- Hop MCs: Point Blank and other new MCs to the scene.
My piece on Hip-hop must have roused people’s addiction as I had to pause in between to let the bellows quiet down.
Naliaka, the evening’s host seems to have fallen head over heals with Asa’s music as it played on loop (heehehe, u r not the only one Naliaka). We however did not mind as I could see a newly formed Choir singing along to ‘Fire on the Mountain’.
As I rushed out of Dass to get myself home, I felt a deep sense of joy pleasure and ease of mind. That is why I look forward to all these monthly events.

Wednesday 17th, Kenya National Theater – Africa Writes Back Book launch
James Currey of James Currey publishers in conjunction with East African Educational Publishers were launching his book; Africa Writes back – The African Writer’s Series and the Launch of African Literature.
The event which started at 6.15 pm, brought together all the African Writers series ardent readers as well as great Kenyan writers.
The book is a recount by James Currey who was the Editorial Director at Heinemann Educational Books in charge of the African Writers Series from 1967 to 1984.
The books is not only the story of a publishing enterprise of great significance; it is also a large part of the story of African literature and its dissemination in the latter half of the twentieth century. The manuscript is full of the drama of that enterprise, the drama of dealing with the mother house, William Heinemann, of dealing with the often intractable political constraints dominating the intellectual space across Africa, and not least of all dealing with the writers themselves – with their ambitions, their temperaments, their financial needs and, at time, their perception of a colonial relationship between themselves and a European publishing house.

Dr. Chakava gave a speech; also recounting his experiences in putting the series together and the rather embarrassing encounters with some writers (All this is in the book as James Currey worked very closely with Dr. Chakava). James Currey also gave a small recount of some of the events that happened during the making of the series. Autographed copies of the books were on sale at Ksh.1,450
Some of the writers and personalities who graced the occasion were; Marjorie Oludhe MacGoye,Yusuf Daewood, Onduko Bw’Atebe, Waithaka Waihenya, John Sibi Okumu, Rasna Warah, Jimnah Mbaru, Peter Kimani of The Standard group, Ngunjiri of the Nation newspaper, Grand Master Masese just to mention a few.
The setting at one of the Museum halls was quite lovely as it gave that whole African feeling to the event. There was lots of food and drink – cocktail style. It was a great evening for a lover of African writing. I haven’t read the book yet but you can be sure I will be reading it as soon as I finish the voluminous ‘Half of a yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Adichie.
Buy your copy of Africa Writes Back here

About Kenyan Poet

Showcasing the best in Kenyan Arts;Music,writing,Poetry,fine art and art reviews as well as info on emerging art trends. “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite…getting something down.”