Friday was first day that I spent a whole day at the museum to enjoy the textures of Kenya’s real literary festival. I spent the day mostly meeting up with authors and getting a full feel of the museum and what was happening about.
Take for instance the “Diaper Mentality” exhibition curated by our good pal Boni Mwangi of Pawa254 fame. He has been doing a lot to bring to light the ills that our greedy government has been to us as a society. Also I had to check out the morning session that was being run by Disraeli a UK rapper and L-ness a Kenya emcee. I know L-Ness as one of the more respected emcees in Nairobi right male or female. You can check out her material on Mdundo and you know that she knows her craft.
The Disraeli fellow I didn’t know much about apart from him being some hip hop aficionado. He was here on the invitation of the British Council and I’m thinking… typical Brits and their arrogance bringing us some white boy to rap in Africa. By the time I left that Dome, one of the most crucial venues at the festival, I had a new respect for that Disraeli dude. He can beat box and he can play the guitar and he can rap. L-ness and he taught us the tenets of Hip Hop which are beatboxing, rap, graffiti, turn tabling (first time I heard of DJing being referred to this way) and street fashion. Did I miss something?
The day included a stop by the lunch stand where I had a sample of the food that was being given to the artists. Artists were the people who were doing all the sessions that folks will be taking part up and down the venue over the next few days. The food offered was rice, potatoes, sukuma wiki (kales to you foreigners reading this) and some meat. It was so horrible that I was forced to buy food at the same food which was very nice. It looks like the people who were there were doing it in such a way that you had to buy their shawarma or eat that nasty stuff they were picking from that huge pot in the back. I didn’t appreciate that. If you want to give food to someone give them something edible.
Away from that food issue I enjoyed chatting with some of the coolest individuals as the day progressed. I met for instance Ciku Kimeria who is a development worker who also has a book out called Of goats and poisoned oranges . Also met Ndiritu Wahome who is usually based in North Carolina, you couldn’t fail to notice him pronouncing it North Karr-raina hehe, who has written a fantasy book The Sad Artist and Other Fairy Tales. Then there is Prajwal Parajuly the author of The Gurka’s Daughter and The Land Where I Lie which was being launched at the festival. It was a full house up in there.
The evening was reserved for the gala which was to be held at the main courtyard with Wole Soyinka as guest of honour. The gala had a Kshs6,000 price tag to get in so some of Nairobi’s leading folks were in the house including Senators like Anyang’ Nyony’o father of Lupita Nyong’o of Oscar winning fame. Who knew the day would come when Prof Nyong’o, famous as he is, would now be referred to as related to a more famous person who was his child no less. Also in there was Dr Auma Obama, seeing as we are going with people and famous relatives, who was the sister of some President dude from a minor North American country. The ambassadors and the first ladies of counties were in the house.
Before settling at the gala I made my way to the Dome another venue in the museum for the Afreeka poetry do. The number of dreadlocks was quite high compared to the gala area and it was really happening with emcees introducing one poet after another; this was clearly the hip event this evening. As I was there the poet I saw performing was Vuyelwa Maluleke the South Africa who reminded me of a once famous Kenyan poet called Caroline Nderitu. She wasn’t horrible with her content like Nderitu but her look was text book CN. It was really surreal watching someone who looked like our poet spitting out some pretty good poetry.
I eventually went back to the gala area and here I saw many performances. One of these was these from Botswana performers Berry Heart which was performing some of their traditional songs. In their brown skin like outfits. With their brown skins. There was drooling in the audience. There were several other performances with some of the people performing at the other venue coming to show us what they are made of. The girl group KIU who I first saw perform at the Etisalat event a few weeks ago and they blew away the crowd.
I started really enjoying myself as the headline acts of the night Eric Wainaina went on stage to perform with Chris Adwar on keyboards. It was great. As I did this I saw a guy who looked familiar and I’m like,
Me: Hey. Were you are a bash in Loresho the other day?
Me: Oh. Or maybe you are celebrity or something,
Him: Or something.
I dismiss the guy until Eric Wainaina states; “Can Kagwe Mungai come to the stage?!”
And then this guy goes on stage and starts jamming with the Kenyan music icon. That was embarrassing.
As I danced to the two performers I entered this twilight zone as I saw some guys from the old AIESEC days; Deogratius Onyango, Gerald Maithya, Wallace Kantai. It was really great catching up with these people some I haven’t seen for over a decade (except Wallace I see him interviewing government officials on TV and laugh at the vein popping in his face as he wants to ask them the tough questions but the advertising to his media house forces him to play ball).
With the performances over I headed home to chill out and prepare for the next day of Storymoja. It was to be a great day as this would be the day I would be doing the How Do Africans Kiss Session.