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:: Stop Violence on Children (Kwani Open Mic)
By James Murua

Kwani had sent out a press release about the upcoming Kwani Literary Festival in December to media houses and the world in general. Thus when I attended the monthly Kwani Open Mic event at Club Soundd, the crowd was a bit expanded in a way. There was quite a large number of media in the house who may have forgotten what Kwani was. The event was an ideal venue to meet the people who were behind the literary festival.

Some of the more well known people in the house media wise included Kwamchetsi Makokha an editorial consultant with the Nation. Also from the Nation Media Group was Joseph Ngunjiri. And there was my "mortal enemy" Otieno Amisi who works for Oakland Media as an editor. Tony Mochama who owns these events was in the house too. There were quite a few others. By the way, I wonder whatever happened to that dude who works on the Spicy pullout in “The Leader”? Apart from media there was also Vee and her colleague from Ogilvy (No I can't remember his name). But I cannot forget the Ukoo Fulani dudes. Or Binyavanga Wainaina, the man himself. Or Mel who is China bound very soon (sob).

Seeing as there was quite some media attention the poets were on the best performance mode. Quite a few of the Kwani usual suspects performed. With Mwaniki Mageria performing and KBC's Terry Ann Chebet doing the readings it was a pretty decent night. Marion Vionna has a new shorter look to her hair and her performance reflected it. She lambasted those who fear her overwhelming Africaness. Tell ‘em girl. Grandmaster Masese who recently set up his blog (click here) was in the house and his poem was really related to the theme. It was a cry from a child who was abandoned by his mother at his grandmothers. The baby was promising never to forgive its mother for this major slight. He also performed with Njui on his trusty obokano. Their poem was more along the lines that the people who violated, raped and generally messed up children were among us. Chilling. This Njui dude seems to be doing some really thought provoking stuff.

Tony Mochama read another excerpt from his upcoming book. We await the book mate. Denis reminded us that he was the only one who was on the theme several times (he wasn't but people always forget to follow it). Terry Ann Chebet did several poems and read from Kwani 2 (El Dorado). Unlike Lillian Muli who had come last month and was not properly prepped, Terry Ann was on point. Even the sound tonight was behaving. However the lasses reading was messed by the crowd who decided to be the biggest noisemakers. There were two possible reasons for this in my view. Possibly, there were only drunks there who had little interest in poetry and book readings. Alternatively, the audience has all read the Kwani books from cover to cover and thus didn't need to listen to that pretty lady reading. Maybe. I can't wait for Kwani 4 to test this theory.

The initial performance had being done by a girl called Sharon who sang a pretty cool song. She was really good and she was called back for an encore performance later in the evening. The night quickly changed from “Kwani Open Mic” to the “Sharon Show”. The girl is that good. She was the most memorable performer of the night. If that was her introduction to Nairobi, all I can say is pleased to meet you too. Wow. Watch out for her.

After the main reading part I went to congratulate Terry Ann on composure under fire and she immediately says, "I know you, you’re the dude with that website..." or words to that effect. I really didn't know what to say. I decided for my sanity’s sake to take it as compliment that she had been to

With all said and done, I took off to my humble abode. As I was leaving I noted Edward the Kwani Intern dude who was not doing very badly (pretty girl mate!). By the way I was pleasantly surprised to find that at that late hour (10:30pm) there were hawkers outside tacos on Kimathi Street selling some really nice boots for mamas. And shoes too. Interesting that.

p.s. That was Wole Soyinka I just saw on my TV at JKIA right? Is Kenya on a literary revival or what?

The author manages, a Nairobi Lifestyle portal

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