Nairobi’s exhilarating performances on ignored elements of human experience

I’m still dusting from last Friday’s event July 22, one of the best experiences that I have had in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in a while, talk about a room full of Visual Art, digital artwork, poetry and music and most of all the fun! It was just the place to be. The theme of the night was ‘Undisclosed.’

The evening was all easy, never mind the UNCTAD conference confusion and the heavy traffic Jam, again I ask who schedules conferences on Friday? With all this banning phenomena one should also ban conferences and do some justice to earth by ordering us all to attend creative art events every Friday. Now that will be some hell of conferences, expressions of freedom.

Now since you probably didn’t attend the event, you are lucky because I do write and you’ll probably find this article interesting but I guarantee you, not as interesting as the real event, but those who found their way to the Word Sessions Edition Michael Joseph Centre in Nairobi on this day, for a meeting of art, It was a day the poets spoke about the ‘unsaid that needs to be said’, here I’m not talking about the rumors or whatever pleasures you from your favourite page on the newspaper, but words with well-intended truth spoken straight from the heart. I think I’m starting to sound like a preacher, that’s like a sermon up there, anyway to the real stuff then.

The day begun a little late with a passionate emotion gripping spoken word by Ngartia J. Bryan. His voice changed from conversational to a rant and yell and an appeal before throwing the audience into a reflective pose as he touched on various ‘loves our life’ is entwined in. Then came the amazing Nita Thuo who wowed the audience with a powerful yet well tendered songs, she would then take a guitar and perform a number just to rubber stamp her multi talent in the performance art.  Her pieces had a certain ring towards self-reflection and love.

The stage was just warming up, as the artists came and go, there was Sam Murimi who peaked off by talking to the image in the mirror, before throwing the audience into gales of laughter by his fantastic lines, well-chosen memes and pun to coat the fun. 

As the evening unfolded, Maimouna Jallow- a story teller took the audience with her to the USA, where the life of an immigrant from Nigeria falls apart from to quote Charles Dickens, ‘Great Expectations’ to despair and finally to finding mixed race love then finally blowing it away.  The story, ‘The thing Around your Neck’, is a short Story by the US based Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the struggle of immigrant women in the USA and the prevalent racial stereotyping which Leonard  Hovstadt of Big Bang Theory, the American TV show, brings to life while dating an Indian girl. In short, most white people think that when in relationship with other races, it is racially appropriate to pretend that they enjoy the cultural background of their new love. 

Meanwhile, the visual art showcase by the talented Shariffah Ingosi’s voice would rent the air as the platform offered her a chance to explain her art. Her theme was rather psychological, the use of Egyptian mythology and other forms to explain the intricate facade of humanity. 

Kelvin Kaesa would then lead the audience into a lovely yet almost brutal spoken word peace about love that begins and ends with his lovely digital artwork that had been projected on the back of the stage since the event begun. In his own words, he takes the pictures of other people and then destroys them. It would be unfair not to mention Raya Wambui, her vulnerable self, exposed to the brutality of the world. Her poems inundated choices that we make which shape our personalities.   

For the lovers of hip-hop, the evening wasn’t over, until General Ugly Emcee aka Abass Amin from Uganda, awoke the crowd with his songs before the evening was closed with another number by Dave Ndegwa a Kenyan artist. 

I left the event full of satisfaction covered by the gracious night with poetry ringing at the back of my mind, with some pride in the talent that is Kenyan and culture that is Nairobian.

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