\\ Words and sound splendor, all in the Dorphan effect
The poets came in, one after the other with superb performances until curtains close leaving many yearning for more, what other than the Dorphan effect?
June is usually a busy month in Kenya; many eyes are on the national budget as it is with the other African countries. The month that begins with the East African country celebrating her independence also ushers in the Nairobi cold and as the Secretary of Finance becomes the prophet of good or doom, life for the ordinary folk goes on in the midst of all the expectations and speculations.
Kenyan poet Dorphan (Mutuma Dennis), hosted an event at Alliance Francaise in the capital on June Ninth, together with his band, Dorphan forms a ‘Dorphanage: Kumbukumbu’.
In this episode of Dorphanage, the band was composed of Danny on the base/lead guitar, Shadrack on the drum set, Eddy on the keys and three gifted vocalists that is Shillah, Sharon and Zippy. Like most of his shows, Dorphan displays a master’s skill in performance and stage presence. The poet skillfully, brought out his wits in a three part performance that was akin to stage play.
A poet known for his spoken word poems like Kumbukumbu, Minority speech, Mashujaa among others would regale the audience with one piece after the other, backed by memorable refrains like: “It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane, it’s just my heart crying out.” the poet would tell stories of oppression, condemn vices and uplift souls with his powerful voice.
Throughout the show, covered by the sooty-black stage, under the yellow glow of the lights, Dorphanage would invoke the creative ooze of other poets to lend a hand to his craftsmanship. Together with Romi Swahili, they spoke of the expectations of the audience from an artist. Like Erykah Badu’s ‘Friends, Fans and Artists Must Meet,’ the two poets explored the holy ground of art, equipped with skilled artists, their topnotch performance and calling to mind the depression that follows after.
The poet also shared the stage with Glory Mafor from Cameroon, with lines and quiet beauty, Glory had one piece for the women, another for the men and finally one for all. Her pieces spoke of the pain of being a woman, the agony in achieving success and retrogressive traditions in her backyard especially around widowhood.
As the show came to the end, glued on their chairs, the hungry crowd begs for more with their eyes but have to be contented till another show. Dorphan-who now hosts one of the popular shows among performance art lovers-may be that unsung Kenyan creative who has curved a niche in poetry performance that fuses well with his Swahili, English and Sheng pieces.
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