Zippy Agatha Okoth’s Oops Zippy! From The Diary of a Divorced Kenyan Woman launched at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi on June 5, 2019.
Dr Zippy Agatha Okoth or Zippy Okoth is many things. The academic is a lecturer of film and theatre arts at Kenyatta University, founder of the Lake International Pan African Film Festival amongst many other roles including singer, actress, and theatre-maker.
The seasoned theatre practitioner wrote and starred in a one-woman show on Valentine’s Day in 2018 called Stranger in my Bed from the Diary of a Divorced Woman. In the play, she portrayed the self-titled character Zippy, a young woman who falls in love with a dashing young military guy. While in fairy tales she would go on to live happily ever after, in her reality, her prince turns out to be a philandering, drunken and physically abusive partner. In the stunning two hour show, she showed the descent into despair until she hit rock bottom and finally found her way to being the successful professional that she is. It was one of the biggest hits in Kenyan theatre for 2018 winning the Best Production on Reproductive Health at the Sanaa Theatre Awards.
The enterprising Dr Zippy unveiled the play as a book at a launch event at the Kenya National Theatre on June 5, 2019. The event which was emceed by the writer included actress Lucy Oruta acting out a section of the book that left audience members chilled as to the pain the character in real and acting life had to go through.
The performance then led to the Simiyu Barasa moderated panel featuring academics Prof John Mugubi and Dr Fred Mbogo, medical doctor Dr Amakove Wala, clinical psychologist Dr Mwari Muthaura, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission’s Irene Soila. While the performance side of the evening was glossed over, it became a night where people discussed Gender Based Violence, the primary focus of the book. It was such an engaging evening that most people didn’t want to leave the auditorium milling around to get their books signed by the every smiling Dr Zippy.
So what is the blurb for the new book in the African literary community? It goes thus;
OOPS ZIPPY: The Diary of a Divorced Woman, is an account of the life of Zippy, a 25 year old performing artist, who falls in love with a young military man. It narrates their romantic love life that ended in an abusive marriage full of infidelity, physical abuse and finally trauma, following the loss of their son. After repeated physical and emotional abuse, Zippy walks out on the marriage when her husband beats her in the public glare of strangers.
She leaves the home they had built together and starts rebuilding her life from scratch. We see her struggles through separation and their attempts to reconcile, to conform to socio cultural stigma. We experience her journey through depression and her turning points. We feel her struggle through the divorce process and ultimately finding her strength to move on.
The book gives very clear accounts of her life, with pain, bitterness, and humour all intertwined. She narrates in a way that few would reveal of their personal lives and it is this openness that makes the book worth reading. It is therapy for the woman and empowerment for the man.
This book is about love, fear, stigma, loss, determination and the fight for survival. The book can pass for a fictitious story for those who do not know her, or it would be the longest monologue.
You can get a copy of the book at Nuria here.
All images in this post are courtesy of our friends at Sanaa Post.