Writer and activist Sisonke Msimang was the host of a unique storytelling performance dubbed “Stories of Women and Girls: The Moth in Nairobi” at the Kenya National Theatre, Nairobi on January 25, 2018. The event was brought by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in conjunction with The Moth.
The Moth is a Non-for-profit organization dedicated to the art & craft of storytelling coming out of New York, USA. Founded in 1997, by poet and novelist George Dawes Green it presents a wide range of theme-based storytelling events across the United States and abroad. Some of the people who have featured in these events include comedian Margaret Cho, actor Ethan Hawke, author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell, and author Salman Rushdie.
The Moth made its appearance in East Africa with an evening with a performance from storytellers around the region at the Kenya National Theatre on Thursday, January 25. They were Nigerian Faith Ekienabor, Tanzanian Ms. Memusi Sabulu, Ugandan Rehema Nanfuka, Kenyan Bina Maseno, and the only male storyteller James Ng’ang’a. As mentioned, they were hosted by Sisonke Msimang whose most recent book is the memoir Always Another Country.
The six shared their personal tales highlighting issues of gender equality. Faith Ekienabor the first blind person to study Psychology in Nigeria gave a moving story of resilience and her passion to give inspiration and hope to the blind community. Memusi Sabulu, a form six student from the Maasai Community in northern Tanzania gave the story on how she had been betrothed and her dowry paid while in primary school. She would reject her suitor to pursue her dreams to become a doctor against the wishes of her father.
Rehema Nanfuka’s personal story focused on gender violence while youthful Bina Maseno recounted her experiences at the ballot box as she sought to be a Member of County Assembly (MCA) for Embakasi, Nairobi, where she had to struggle with hard to convince elderly voters and dismissive men during her campaigns.
Unfortunately, very few people got to watch the show on offer as it was a closed door performance with Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and guest of honour Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya in attendance. Thus the newly painted theatre was filled with friends of the event organisers and sponsors and the many in the public were barred from accessing the venue with security tight at the gates of the iconic theatre. Perhaps there should have had another show for the rest of us not on the administration’s good books willing to pay for tickets and see the show with their own eyes?
Here are images from the event by Emma Nzioka courtesy friends within the production.