Random Tuesdays: Kwani Open Mic

There is this perfect week idea I have. Yes, I borrowed the idea from Bernie? Barnie? of How I Met Your Mother, but I don’t intend to sleep with a perfect stranger for seven days in a row. My intentions involve going out to party/club seven days in a row. Okay, maybe not seven but 5; I have it all worked out. Tuesday to Saturday. I’ll write about it so you watch out for when it happens.

Yesterday I attended Kwani? Open Mic at Club Soundd. I think I was the first to arrive and the last to leave; I remember the bouncer switching the lights on us while my friend requested the song bendover to usher us out. The request was granted and the bouncer told her she can always come back and request the song over and over again. Somebody was in like!

I’d like to say I listened to the poems for like an hour; after that your guess is as good as mine. Kenyanpoet (Njeri Wangari) performed some poems from her book and they were really good.

There were some tweeps in the house; the cheerful Chiira, the lovely Joliea, geeky gramware (hope you enjoy the book!), chilled out warothe, foxy Felix Mind and lovely Njeri. Who else was there but I forgot to mention? I’ll add you later if you remind me. I promise.

There was another tweep who deserves special mention, don’t ask why. His name is….drumrolls….. Zablon or Zabdyte on twitter.

So having been ushered out of Club Soundd, we made out way to Giggles to have that one more for the road. I’d want to write about the details of last night but that would be breaking my rule of kiss and no tell. It was a crazy night for a Tuesday though.

So am travelling to Uganda tomorrow; one more item crossed off my list.


The StoryMoja Hay Festival, Kenya

The SHFK is coming up on October 1-3, 2010. I am sure that many of you readers might like to know about the festival. The festival this year is themed ‘Diversity’. As in 2009, the sessions are going to be many and in varied forms and topics.

Kathy Vaughan presents ‘Management Proverbs’

Sunday 3rd October 4pm to 5:30pm at the SHFK 2010
Growing up, everyone learns lessons about life through direct instruction and through our social environments. Some are positive, some negative, some unexplored. This session will engage the audience in thinking about proverbs as a tool for the modern workplace. The audience will have a chance to discuss and interpret chosen proverbs related to work, as well as create their own proverbs.

Kathleen M. Vaughan is an experienced trainer and consultant specializing in leadership, collaboration and conflict management. She holds a Masters in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelors degree from Dartmouth College, USA. As a third culture kid and a seasoned mediator, she enjoys using language and the word as a tool to generate understanding, perspective-taking and motivation.

The Indian Black Butterfly invites you to her join her Transformation CirQle.
Friday 1st October 2pm to 3:30pm

Tazim Elkington – The Indian Black Butterfly – has a mysterious sense of ‘knowing’ how to tap into the spaces people are unsure of stepping into. Her sessions are unique and rare as they take a life of their own as moments unfold. She challenges limitations, norms, comfort zones and most of all that which we may consider a done deal however might be the biggest setbacks in our lives. This is not an experience where you buy 1 and get 1 free.. come join Tazim and find out more for and about life and where we function from and why. Lets discuss ‘WHAT IS POWER’ – and its allies and foes! This session will be held on Friday 2-3.30pm at the ‘Transformation CirQle’. This session is not to be missed!!

“Verse of Fire”: A Conversation with Benjamin Zephaniah
Sunday 3rd October 4pm to 6pm

In “Bought and Sold,” Benjamin Zephaniah asks, “What happened to the verse of fire”? “Smart big awards and prize money,” he warns, are “killing off black poetry.” Poets who seek commercial approval risk losing their ability to find what Zephaniah terms “de magic poem,” a poem that “can ease our sorrows” and celebrate “our tomorrows.” A poet of the heart and of the head, Benjamin Zephaniah writes and performs socially engaged poetry, a poetry that makes audiences laugh and cry, feel and care, think and plan, engage the world in its possibilities and its obstacles.

Deeply committed to an ethical vision of the world, an expansive ethics that ranges from veganism to anti-racist activism, Zephaniah works on and off the page. He has championed a poetry that speaks to publics, eschewing the model of the isolated genius artist intent on writing in cryptic codes. His commitment to a democratic poetics is perhaps most evident in his writing for children in the volumes Funky Chickens, Wicked World, and School’s Out: Poems Not for School. Zephaniah is deeply committed to the future of a risk-taking poetry that pursues social and political utopias. In “Protest Poets,” he urges “human poets” to “unite,” “Lest we pass on to future poets / a world in which, poets do not fall in love / or mek mistakes.”

On this “Verse of Fire” panel, Benjamin Zephaniah is joined by Kenyan poets Tony “Smitta” Mochama and Njeri Wangari, in a wide-ranging discussion about the present and future of poetry, the relationship between art and activism, and how to engage multiple audiences through innovative performances. The panel will be moderated by poet and literary critic Keguro Macharia.

Keguro is an Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park. he belongs to the Koroga Collaborative and to the Concerned Kenyan Writers Collective. His writing can be found at gukira.wordpress.com

Tony ‘Smitta’ Mochama is a successful journalist, and popular performance poet in Nairobi, with two published works of poetry to his name – ‘What if I Am a Literary Gangster’, and its sequel, ‘The Literary Gangsta – II.’ A third work of poetry ‘Evanescence’ is on the way … Mochama has also lectured on creative writing and poetry, most recently as a guest speaker in June at Concordia University, in Montreal. A self-confessed vodka aficionado (no lemons, no avocado), the dread-locked poet also did Law at UoN, but sez: “Don’t practice. Just preach!”

Njeri Wangari is well known local poet/ spoken word performer, blogger and literary activist. Her first book of poetry was launched last month, Mind and Mind Fields: My Spoken Words. Check out her blog http://kenyanpoet.blogspot.com/
For More Details About the SHFK 2010 visit the Storymoja Werbsite or write toinfo@storymojaafrica.co.ke

Paul Sullivan presents his book ‘Kikuyu District’
Friday 1st October 4pm to 5:30pm

Kikuyu District contains the edited letters of Francis Hall (Fort Hall) who lived in Kenya from 1892 – 1901 when he died from blackwater fever aged 40. His letters are among the earliest colonial records of daily life in British East Africa. He commanded Fort Smith near present day Nairobi with orders to keep the peace between the Kikuyu and the Maasai and to re-supply caravans traveling between the coast and Uganda. It was a hard life in dangerous conditions and every day was an adventure. He was lucky to survive a goring by a rhino and was later mauled by a wounded leopard that he strangled with his rifle. As the railway approached Kikuyuland Hall was moved to Mbirri (Muranga) to establish a new fort. Six months later he was dead.Kikuyu District is a unique and fascinating account of the life of an early colonial administrator and settler.

Born in Wales, educated in England and the USA, Paul Sullivan chose a copywriting career in advertising that led to work in ten countries in Asia and Africa. A thirty year resident of Kenya, he is now retired on the Kenyan coast working on his second book about Kenyan colonial history.

For More Details About the SHFK 2010 visit the Storymoja Werbsite or write toinfo@storymojaafrica.co.ke

Wamathai Spoken Word ~ September Edition

Wamathai.com presents Wamathai Spoken Word on Thursday the 9th of September 2010 at Secrets Lounge (Ground floor,View Park Towers – Next to Alliance Francaise) from 7 – 10 PM

Wamathai and guests during a past spoken word event

The program is as follows:

* The event will be hosted by Dela

* The poetry performance slots will be open

* Music by: Aziza

* Prose reading by James Ochweri & Chiira Maina

* The Screening of short films by Kuweni Serious

Wamathai Spoken Word at Secrets Lounge

Unlike most Kenyan timers, Chiira and I were seated by 6.30 p.m. The event was to start at (around) 7pm to 9.30 p.m. being the first, we inquired where it would be held and were told the first floor. Secrets Lounge (hereafter shortened to just Secrets) has covers 3 floors, am told, though I didn’t get to the second floor. At first when I told my friends I was going to Secrets, there were expressions like:

The Strip Club? The Gay Club?

Actually, it may (or was) all that but it’s now a really cool place with a black and white décor. It was empty save for us, of course and the hot bartender. Wamathai, being host, organiser and all, was running up and down fixing this that. However, by 7pm, the place was already full, and by 7.15, you could hardly find space to stand. Turnout was huge; this is a real achievement for a first time event.

So those who always plan to come fashionably late missed seats, and then there are those who come shamefully late (when the event is already over…I shall not mention names- including my friends who were coming to give me moral support because I was going to read a piece for my very first time. Note, I said read, not perform. Slight difference there. A shout out to them: Smonchstar, Boosy woosy and her cousin, WallyB and Pato)

Lights, mikes, camera and action! It started off with this couple (I don’t know if they are together, am just saying couple coz they were two) singing Wyclef Jean’s Two Wrongs. Then the MC for the evening invited the performers of the evening. (I am so so very terrible with names) but among those who performed included Mike Kwambo, Wanjeri Gakuru, Anyiko, Jemedari, Mstari wa Nne, myself and Wamathai himself

The crowd was paying 85% attention at the beginning, and this kept deteriorating as tweeps/facebookers/friends and acquaintances forgot it was about poetry and not all about the hype. Read more here

I was nervous as I went to read my poem, but the cake helped, and maybe one or two cold ones. I know the piece or the reading was nothing to write home about 😉 , but thanks for the applause and I hope to do better next time. Which has been the question on everyone’s mind: when is the next time? With a bigger venue, of course.

In attendance was James Murua, Antoneosoul,Oliver Mathenge and a long list of tweeps I don’t want to attempt writing because someone might be left out and then they’ll feel bad, and you know I love you all!

The after-party went on of course; never mind it was a weekday; I had asked this and Wamathai told me Friday is a tricky day because of the world cup. Am sure you all understand.

I’d love to attend the next Wamathai Spoken Word.

P.S. Since I have no photos of that event..I’ll post a pic of his that made me his number one groupie:

What do you think?

I was going to put up this piece earlier, but then I lost my data cable, then got arrested, but that is a story for another day!

I’ve added this much later: I thought I should mention some special tweeps who were in attendace: @cdohnio (who arrived early and has an awesome young blog, @kirembu (at least you knew the words I was going to read), @muniu, @nbad_kitty, @mwirigi, @switcheeks, @shuhi, @jerishi, @swambi, @ngeny, @EdwinBaru, @Mwendaa, @Mkaigwa (I’ll watch the dawa film, I promise), @ifortknox, @matrixster, @joliea, @murimuriz, @kaggzie (you didn’t say hi!), @mmuendo, @albieno and if I haven’t mentioned your name, please don’t throw a stone at me!

Wamathai Spoken Word

Venue: Secrets Lounge, View Park Towers, Downtown Nairobi
Date: 30 June 2010
Time: 7:00P.M. – 9:30P.M.
Charges: Kshs. 100

Born in June 2009 as wamathai.blogspot.com, Wamathai.com started as a space for author Wamathai Warugongo to exercise his creative juices. Eventually, other authors joined the founder and started submitting original Kenyan poetry and short stories. Wamathai.com has since its humble beginnings crossed the 10,000 unique visitors mark. The site, now with 20 authors, is one of the few spaces on the Internet one can find a unique blend of fresh and exciting writing from Kenya from several creative genres.

Wamathai is turning 1 year old and will be hosting a celebration with its authors and several invited guests who will be performing some of the most popular pieces of poetry and creative writing. This will be happening at the Secrets Lounge in View Park towers in downtown Nairobi. Special guests to this event include popular afro fusion singer Dela , TV presenter and blogger Anyiko Owoko, Michael Kwambo from the highly respected poetry collective Mstari Wa Nne, Recording & Spoken Word Artist Jemedari, Spoken word artists Wanjeri Gakuru, Kevin Gachuma, Wanjiku Mwaurah and many more.

Live music for this celebration will be provided by Mizizi the band.

the flier