It is Saturday the 17th and I find myself heading to the Railway grounds for the Storymoja Hay Festival. It was my second time, and from the fun and lessons I got from the Festival last year, I could not miss out on this.
My first stop was the British Council where I got to listen to Ben Okri. He set off the stage with some of his poems, and eliciting different responses from the audience. In the poem â€˜My motherâ€™s Lipsâ€™, He highlighted the fact that seeing is not passive, but it is a conscious effort- a choice of an individual. He also read the poem â€˜The Rhinoâ€™- one of his shortest poems. He said he believes that short poems are harder to write. Okri was also asked a number of questions from the attentive audience. Many a writers came out of the British Council tent with tips and guides on writing.
At the same venue, I came to meet one of the best Kenyan Paralympics athletes- Mary Namancha. She has made Kenya proud by winning 12 gold, 11 silver and 6Bronze medals in field events such as Javelin and discuss. Alongside her was Abdelkader Benali- a Moroccan-Dutch marathoner and author that never gave up in life. His writing was inspired by the fact that language is important. Benali urged writers to give their writing 100% focus- 80% is just a waste of time. While Namancha was solemn, Benali was funny and witty eliciting some laughter from the crowd.
I then headed to the American Embassy Tent for â€˜Poets Converse and Performâ€™. Here was the Jazz poet Yosef Komunyakaa and our own Sitawa Namwalie. The two poets were unique- they gave us answers to the questions by reading their poems. Apart from that, they highlighted the fact that sound in poetry is important because it creates the emotions and its impact. Both Sitawa and Yosef gave importance to the premise that the reader is a co-writer to the poem because the interpretation they give to the art of work depends with their experience. Sitawa took us back to the 2007/08 PEV with the poem â€˜would you?â€™, while Komunyakaa highlighted the demarcation of the Black and White Soldiers in the poem â€˜To Do Streetâ€™.
Besides the main events, the side shows were also great, the live music, the PMBC tent where attendants picked raffle tickets to get books. The Storymoja Hay Festival brought together people from different calibers in life into celebrating poetry and arts.