It is 5.30pm and I am still in the house arguing with my brother when I receive a call from a colleague that he is waiting for me in town. I hastily rush to the bus stop jump into the cheapest bus, see these ones sometimes actually fill up faster than the hip expensive-colorful ones with blasting music, and so we head off to the main city. On the way, we are delayed by an accident, grisly and bloody, I was later to learn that the bus involved in the accident was torched by an angry mob, where is the justice? Or is it we are free to light it up? Questions I found myself pondering about while watching performances about the African history that was written off our history books-with a portrait of the president at the back-the books we held dearly while in school and got a pat in the back for scoring As.
I get into town still with a few minutes to kill and hightailed to the Kenya Cultural Center where the event ‘History vs His-story’ was being hosted. Crowds are gathered chatting, laughter and hugging the new comer with those ‘smiles.’ I sneak past security and make a beeline to the registry only to be informed on the need to cool off like the gathered crowd for the event has not yet started. That is when I call my colleague only to learn that he was waiting for me at the popular KenCom-Nairobi’s favorite wait–for-me spot.
The event ‘History vs His-story’ begins later when the sun is about to dip in the western Horizons. With a full house, expectant and curious, the MC Ice Tonik (Fredrick Sitonik Taiyana) would pace around the room one hand lifted in the emptiness above his head asking whether the audience actually enjoyed freedom. There came very interesting answers from those who thought they were free. While others, uncomfortable with Identity cards burning their wallets felt that they were less free for in many cases, just like during the colonial era, they could be asked by the cops to produce the national ID, any minute they walked out of the auditorium.
As the brainstorm and the debate around freedom and free-dome ended, the floor opened to a number of guitar riffs and passionate resonating sounds to prep the audience for the impending cast, a duet of two young men delivered a nostalgic rendition of American artist Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’, unto a calm audience you would hear a sketchy finger-snap, to a piece that was excellently delivered evoking reflections on our modern life and skewed thoughts plus the perturbing nature of man’s appreciation of outright misinformation.
Drinking in the incandescent talent, the audience will be immersed in an esoteric poem, ‘Washa Telly Cheki Headlines’ (Switch on the television and watch the headlines) a satirical piece on the misinformation fed on television while encouraging reading-between-the-lines. The dramatized piece delivered to the curious audience who carefully followed the spotlight on the tall artist on stage charmed perform.
Then came the hour of a one hour showcase of the night dubbed ‘History vs His-story’. The lights dimmed, the curtains were drawn, and the sound of the legendary Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada would rent the chilling entrance of dark silhouettes as they did a synchronized jig on the stage. Lanterns, one smoky carried by two ladies would release a mellowed yellow as the rest of the crew got onto the stage. Bark yard, a silhouette of a pot with two wooden sticks would look like a sited hunched old man in those jungle green Khaki caps. As the famous song ‘Kothbiro’ faded in the purple blue color with the disappearance of lanterns, one of the acts would remain on the stage spinning things up into a performance of dance, poetry and song.
The pieces were a condemnation of slavery and slave trade, the misinformation in what we have come to call the history, and blood lust that we call liberation that has split Africa and folded it into a tribal cocoon of itself. They will grotesquely paint enmity that is the food of greedy leaders and the impact that is hollow like the Rwandan genocide and the Kenyan post-election violence which breeds in fear and creates a nation with wounds so deep that those who remain; become the mute sheep of the oppressor, the current leadership.
After the one hour of performance, the Audience gave a standing ovation before regaling in the aftermath of such an epic performance. The organizers of the February 5 event aimed at “connecting us to our roots reminding us what it means to be patriotic,” said the organizers. According to them, this would be achieved by sparking “an interest in the mind of the audience to go and seek knowledge about our beautiful continent and as a result get an understanding of who we really are, and our role in the community. We have become like trees that are so interested in growing further, from our roots without realizing that it is the roots that facilitate the growth.”
‘History vs His-story’ is a brain child of Revolution Art Hub- a group of young enthusiast mainly poets, dancers and actors, made up of Boaz Afeti, a 47th poetry Slam King, Ngugi Mwangi, Martin Mwangi, Seise Bagbo, Kimathi chokera 60th Slam King and Faith Shikanga 59th Slam queen aims at showcasing performances whose aim is to create a positive social change, through art and leadership. Other supporting acts include: Paul Muhiu- beat boxer, Jenippher Wamaitha and Joseph Omondi as dancers.
The Revolution Art Hub as the name would state is one of the few but seemingly rising voices of Africa, the youth whose passion for their roots and a free world would is a much positive encouragement of hope respect for African authentic history in a continent which has failed in most cases to find its true history and purpose for existence, but finds comfort in dancing to the tune of the west.
The next performance courtesy of the Kenyan group dubbed ‘She Is’ runs from March 4-5 2017, the show will include, video installations, Visual art exhibitions, poems, and music whose aim is condemning skin toning, gender based violence, tales of an African women, body size and shapes among others. —
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