Another year, another Storymoja Hay Festival.

Beverly Nambozo with Dinaw Mengestu (Children of the Revolution)
Beverly Nambozo with Dinaw Mengestu (Children of the Revolution)

Like the night turns into day and day back into day another Storymoja Hay festival was upon us. This year the venue had moved to the National Museum at the Museum Hill. Awesomeness.

The Storymoja Hay Festival just seems to be getting better by the year. This years edition started on the Thursday at the museum with a “Party with the Storymoja Stars”and what I saw there was very encouraging. Writers from all over the planet were to be seen at the event that had two major performances. The most notable was Sitawa Namwalie with her updated version of “Cut off my tongue.” The amazing lady with no hair came on with an entourage and killed the audience (me) as a dictator complaining bitterly about the people who they were forced to lead. Especially those who deem themselves to be… poor. It was hilarious to listen but a little sad as it was probably what many African despots would have said if they would state what was in their heart.

Away from the performances the crowd was rocking. Oyunga Pala who left the game and only recently came back with a column in the Standard was in there as was Star columnist Andrea Bohnstedt . Also in the columnist category (I am one of those so I have to big up my people see?) was Rasna Warah who has a column in The Nation. She also happens to have been the words behind the book Mogadishu Then and Now which launched the other day.

It wasn’t just columnists who were in the house. There were also many authors invited or crashing. They included Ethiopian born Dinaw Mengestu (Children of the Revolution), Giles Foden (The Last King of Scotland), Lola Shoneyin (The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives)

and a bunch of other people who have written a tome with at least 50,000 words and gotten published. Sadly I never got to meet Noviolet Bulawayothe Caine Prize winner as she pull out at the very last minute. Hopefully next time the festival will pay for the full airfare of authors they have advertised for so long in advance and are using to sell their festival. Sadly I never saw that Kenyan who got Caine prize Nomination.

Away from the columnists and authors it was a good old evening at the festival. I even got to meet Uganda’s finestBeverly Nambozo who was in tow with two poets; one a lawyer and the other a student when they aren’t doing the poetry thing. I met Beverly 6 years ago at the East African Writers summit where I made a decision to try and make a living from this writing thing. She was looking well and has been working on this poetry project I look forward to seeing come to light.

The festival itself wasn’t too bad. No Railway Club dust to contend with and it was all about having a great time on the Saturday when I went. I attended a few sessions to prove that I was at a literary session chief of which was the Dinaw Mengestu one where I got to hear a man at the top of his game being facilitated by the aforementioned Beverly and Dr Tom Odiambo of literary reviewing fame. Mengestu is intense as well as being forthright in his arguments in a clear concise manner I haven’t seen in a while.

Another session I attended was the one by Lola Shoneyin where the lass dazzled with her quick wit and knowledge of her subject matter. There was also a session at the courtyard where a dude was talking about men in Africa and how we don’t agree to take responsibility for our actions. It was illuminating. If only I had gotten his name.

The performance highlight again has to be the new Cut of my tongue which I saw on Saturday night at the Louis Leakey Hall. That show needs to be seen around the world roho safi.

See ya next year people.

By James Murua

This blog is run by James Murua a Nairobi, Kenya based lover of books.

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