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Friday, 13 January 2017

2016: Mataha Was Born

Happy New Year 2017 from Mataha Theatre Productions! A brief history about Mataha:

Wherever an SP Timu Kubwa goes, theatre goes with them. That was the slogan we had back at the University of Nairobi. Well, for those who do not know what SPTimuKubwa is, let me give you the details. I schooled at the University of Nairobi where I did a BSC (Statistics) degree. However, I spent my better part of school acting and writing. We had a theatre group at the Saint Paul's University Chapel. And since we were the largest theatre group at the university at the time, we called ourselves: Timu Kubwa. And since we were part of St. Pauls, SP seemed to be the best acronym. So SPTimu Kubwa was coined that way.

We were under the able directorship of one crazy Kisii guy by the name Dominic Oyori, whom I still revere for his tireless efforts towards the group. After he completed college in 2013, he left the group under a Cosmas Kiruki who was the best chairman that I ever saw. I was the Cast Director and was in-charge of a creative team that wrote scripts, poems, songs and then directed it. Those were the best moments in college.

Well, after college, here I am at Mburoti (in Limuru). With a friend, Alex Thuku, we have started a group called Mataha Theatre Productions. We do entertainment in weddings, graduation ceremonies, birthdays, ngurarios, anything. But we do not entertain in burials. Who does that anyway. Here are our photos under Mataha Theatre Productions. Contact us at 0726420023/0712504332.

At Mathare North

At Mathare Event

Our Business Card

Prince Cam Media Studios

After a Wedding Entertainment Mburoti
Prince Cam Media Studio

Centro Comedy Auditions

Kuvaa Kilemba by Ng'ang'a

Wagithomo Alex Gitau

Friday, 22 July 2016

Pain of Death

Why did you ring the bell?
Why did you wake me up from hell with that damn bell?
Why did you not let me just lie in peace?
And rest in the pieces that you left me in?
Do you have to wrest my rest away from me even in death?

I know it! You loved my poems.You were hypnotized by their beauty.But did you not remember that when you killed me.
You failed to protect me.
You negligent and reckless country!
You just watched helplessly as those blood thirsty animals devoured me.
Guns in hand, they shot at me
As though I was a criminal
Twaap!Twaap! I faced the Firing squad.
Had I committed treason to deserve that!
Luckily the six bullet wounds did not kill me
But pain I got
As I rolled and turned
“ Saidia,masikini,” I cried helplessly to your masikio.
But how wrong I was!
The boys were late in coming.
And when they did
The beasts killed my friends.
Painfully, I saw them kill my Nasipondi,
Nasipondi, my girlfriend carried my baby.
Her brutal death was what broke me up
A girl that I treasured with my all.
 A girl whom we had planned our future together.
Nasipondi got a small bullet wound on her forehead.
A very small scar.
But that had her falling helplessly in death.
I looked at her unbelievingly as she fell lazily onto the ground
Blood oozing freely from her body
I watched as they kicked her lifeless body to confirm her death.
I saw them spit on her beautiful body, a thing that made me grimace with pain.

Mheshimiwa MP, I saw you cry during my burial.
You sneezed and wept uncontrollably when you saw how unrecognizable my
body was in the morgue.
“ Kenya has lost its youth,” you wisely said.

For this, I will not cry for you mother.

You watched the news with your mouth wide agape
Waiting for you to send in rescue.
Waiting for your men in blue to come.
For I thought they hold true their values
For this I will not cry for you mother.

One of the boys had taken the airplane to fly his girlfriend to a trip
My baby in her womb dying even before she saw the light of the day
The kick on her stomach, to ensure that my unborn child indeed did die
And gave my mother a white handkerchief.
My father, you gave him a pat on the back.
And told him that men do not cry in public.
You paid for my 100,000 Kshs worth coffin and funeral services.
And said that no stone would be left unturned in the investigations.
Yet, very well, you knew that you are no askari.
And wouldn’t be involved in the investigations.

Who will console my mother?
Who will give a white handkerchief to my father?
That the two ageing parents may live longer.
Every day, I look at them and are drawn with pity.
Seeing the two adults as they struggle to accept reality.
That their child, their hope is no more.
My father for one, had sold everything he had: socks, shamba, goats,
cows and trees for my education
My mother was pleased at my joining the university
“ You will soon be professor,” she always said with glee. “ And buy me a kitenge dress”
Because she knew that education would make her son a big man at last.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

2015 Wasn't Too Bad for Us Thespians in Kikuyu Subcounty

            The year 2015 ended in style for Kikuyu sub county male thespians as they engaged in theatre development skits on matters concerning positive masculinity and overcoming Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the area. The skits that were performed on the streets across the six wards of the county were organized by Community Education and Empowerment Centre (CEEC), an NGO that has been very proactive in fighting ignorance and social injustices across the country. Before going for the shows, the thespians were first trained on becoming better men amidst the noise and the hullaballoo doing rounds in the streets that real men ought to be tough and rough. You should have seen us pay total attention to Nelly and the other trainers at Kikuyu Agricultural offices where the training was conducted.
The actors across the sub county

            CEEC has been running the positive masculinity topic for two years so far; 2014 and 2015. The choice for theatrical productions in 2015 was reached at after analyzing the benefits that art offers. “Art is engaging, relaxing and is able to reflect the exact things happening in the society in a very creative way,” said Miss. Florence, one of the trainers.

          Once they were equipped with the right education on positive masculinity, the thespians went out to the streets and came up with the best productions ever. Audiences were thrilled across the six wards and gathered much from the small skits. CEEC also gave out free t-shirts to the audiences after they correctly answered questions drawn from the skits.

           As they concluded the shows, the thespians felt that more needs to be done in the sub county so as to have the message doing more rounds and engaging a larger audience. A concert was agreed upon later on in 2016.

            In the training, it was discovered that factors that lead to GBV especially in cases where men violate their womenfolk are centred on socialization. The Kikuyu sub county male has grown up in a patriarchal society where every authority and power traces down from the Y chromosome. Boys are taught to be leaders and decision makers while girls are taught to clean and pick after their brothers. The boy child is perceived to be a better child right from birth; he gets five ululations in the Kikuyu culture while the girl only gets four since she cannot participate in tribal wars. The boy child is taught how to take care of the family wealth since he will one day inherit it while the girl is busied with cleaning and taking care of children since she will one day get married and leave her fatherland. A woman is a ‘mundu muuka’ or ‘mundu wa nja’; she does not belong. This has been going on for quite sometime especially in the Kikuyu culture with nothing wrong happening.

          However, today due to things like affirmative action, women empowerment and girl child education, the woman is at par with her malefolk. She can earn as well. She can gain wealth. She can decide. She can inherit property as far as the law is concerned. This has left the patriarchal socialized man feeling threatened and therefore he strives to do anything to bring the woman down. He believes that the woman ought to be in the kitchen. She ought to be taking care of kids. If she is too development-minded or educated, she is a child on the loose who should be taken care of lest she hurts herself or others. In other words, the modern man is still living in an ancient socialization. So what does he do to bring the woman back to where she belongs? He rapes, he batters, he insults, he strips and does anything to bring her down.

           It is not men alone who are victims of this archaic socialization--women too are victims. It is therefore no wonder to see empowered, educated and employed women who still expect their men to clothe, feed and take care of them despite the men not being in any gainful employment. These are the women who still believe that men are the leads despite there being no difference from them, other than biological. This kind of socialization has left a couple of men confused as they try to understand what manhood means. They are men but they wonder how to behave like them. Some get so frustrated in the process and go into alcohol, deserting their homes and engaging in all kinds of irresponsible behavior in a bid to look for their true North.

               As we acted out the skits, one thing came out very clearly; a real man knows the pit that his womenfolk is coming from and is therefore ready to help her out. He supports women empowerment. He works hard to support his family. He is able to show his emotions without bottling them up only to have them flaring like a time-bomb. He will do anything to support his wife at home even if it means conducting some of the previously perceived womanish roles. And amidst all this, he still stands because he knows that roles do not define him. He refuses to be tied to and pulled down by an old socialization process. He is a man!

More photos here.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

The Catholic zone B Youth festivals were done yesterday. And we emerged second in our narrative titled Wonderwhere Kamaru. Again! Behind Sacred Hearts Dagoretti. Again!  Josphat Kariuki and his team (Karis, as he was known at St Pauls University Chapel Theatre Group) beat us.  Again! 

Good news. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd narratives will be proceeding to the Archdiocese of Nairobi Youth Festivals at Mang’u on October 31st.Well, am jovial if you are asking. Emerging 2nd position was not a joke. Competition was stiff and you should have been there to see adrenaline on stage. Young people were exerting themselves beyond limit as they tried to battle it out for the best narrator. You should have seen the beautiful stories that were presented. The awesome creativity. You should have seen the wonderful productions that were brought before our eyes. You should have seen the energy, the synergy, the sweat....Indeed, nothing good comes on a silver platter.

Karis and his team from Sacred Hearts however, thrilled us the most. The air was filled with mirth as they held our attention captive. Whenever they went into a moving part of the story, they carried you with them. When they were surprised, you were surprised the more. When they laughed, we had to lift you from the ground as laughter tore you into bits. That was Karis! No wonder the nigger scooped the best narrator’s certificate in the festivals. Karis, what shall we do to beat you at the archdiocese level?

Friday, 2 October 2015

Of Festivals, Preparations, Winning and Losing

Last Saturday September 26th, my team and I attended Catholic senior youth Nairobi West Deanery festivals at St. Michael’s Otiende Church, Langata. We were thoroughly beaten. Thoroughly beaten! My solo verse ranked the last. My narrative only managed a position two. Thanks God, even the runners up were to proceed to the zonal levels at St Johns Kangemi on 10th October. Were it not for this runners up narrative, I would been roasted alive in that bus that we traveled back home in. Hard stares were fixed at me by my team. I had failed them.  I was like a Kenyan Harambee Stars football coach who even after training and coaching his team diligently was beaten by another team.  Would they impeach me, I wondered.

Festivals and their preparations are moments that I look forward to with anxiety especially if I have a team performing on stage. Anything can go wrong in that short time-frame that the actors are given to do a rendition of how they understood your item. One might sneeze where they were not to. Another might sweat or develop a fever at the most weird time. Even after rehearsing and perfecting the lines during the preparations, things might go awry at the last minute.

Final preparations before the festivals also taught me the value of improvisation. We were to have our backdrops designed by an artist. However, the team leader announced a week before the D-day that their budget could not cater for the artist’s fees. I became tongue-tied. Designs of what needed to be artistically drawn had been in my mind all along.... Here were the festivals quickly coming… Here was the team leader saying that we would have to make do with sketches… What do you get from that? Confusion.

Luckily, an elder theatre director came to our rescue. He had an artistic talent and volunteered to draw for us. All I needed to do was to tell him the designs that I wanted on the backdrops. He carefully sketched most of them and left us to do the paintwork. You should have seen me with a team of Mary Queen of Apostles youth members painting!  Never before had I held a paintbrush in my hand. But I did paint well anyway. At some point, our artist was so tired that he asked us to finish up the drawings. We had no alternative. Again, pencil in hand, I painstakingly drew. The experience taught me the essence of improvising as well as taking control when things go awry since they will always go.  

During the festivals day, I could not help but notice the essence of color. Most of the winning items apart from having great storylines employed color and beautiful productions. Their teams had to go out of their ways to get the best backdrops designs, best costume, good scripts and powerful actors. All these factors led to their success.  From my solo verse loss, I learnt the importance of following instructions to the letter.

Faint Setting of my Narrative Stage

I was surprised to note that most actors do not watch other stage performances once they done with theirs. I wondered how they would learn. They were haughty. How dare you be so content with your work that you never pay attention to what others have to offer? Do you think that they are less creative?

I hope and pray that our narrative will outsmart the others on 10th October. We hope to win all the way till we showcase it to the Pope when he arrives in Kenya in November. [Hint: Our narrative is about how the disabled (walemavus), are hidden anytime a visiting head of state or dignitary is set to touch down in Nairobi, Kenya. You saw it when US President Obama visited us, didn’t you? I just pray they will not hide them when Pope comes] For those who will be able to attend the festivals, let’s meet there for the Zone B competitions. Pray for us too.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Packaging a Story

We are all storytellers. Whether you are a tailor, an accountant, a journalist, a home maker, a teacher, a priest , a HR manager, a writer, an actor, a director, a film maker, a waiter, an undertaker, a doctor or even a MP. At one time in our professions, we find ourselves telling a story, narrating an ordeal, making a presentation, convincing a mass of people orally, singing a song or even gossiping. All these tasks if we look at them from a creative angle are stories. An accountant analyzing a balance sheet with a group of managers will need to find the right styles to make themselves persuasive as they explain why the company is experiencing massive losses. A tailor might find themselves telling a client about how a fashion trend emerged and how it is sweeping the entire world with its finesse. A homemaker mother will at most times find themselves giving stories to her cronies. Stories live in us. What however differentiates good story tellers from unsuccessful ones is how we package the tales. That brings me to the theme of this blog post; story packaging.

What is the difference between a boring play from an interesting one? You got it right—packaging. What makes some actors shine better than others? Packaging. What makes a writer shine over others? Packaging.  Packaging separates wheat from the chaff. It gives the artist an inimitable edge that only belongs to them and makes their works easily identifiable. I can for example point out the writings of Wahome Mutahi (he of the Whispers Column fame). I can identify an actor as Mr. Bean even if I stumbled on 50 actors doing their thing on blindfold.

Wahome Mutahi of Whispers Column Fame

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Last Valentine's day will indelibly be printed in my mind till I join my spiritual realm. Not because of the wonderful date I had (of course it was breath-taking as you would expect my dates to be).You too, I kno, had a fantastic one. Therefore, I won't bore you with tales of how she blushed when I fished out the wilting red rose and knelt at Kencom, in-front of her, despite the public attention we attracted.

 Memories of that Friday refuse to get erased because the day marked a new dawn in my writing.

Let me hit the nail on the head. I won a prize writing. Never have I ever thought that my writing could fetch me a monetary prize. I knew I could get as many facebook likes, friends and comments but money...Aah Aah.

 Here we go-- I won the third prize in an essay writing contest at the university. The essay was about Korean studies that are being introduced in May. I wrote the essay last year, sent and forgot it. You know how one momentarily forgets poverty when their hands land on the first salary? That's similar to what I did with the essay. I wrote it, edited it, hated it (yes, sometimes I hate what I write) and sent it; never to remember it.

On a Monday, I got a call from the department of literature inviting me for a prize giving to award essayists who participated in the contest.  I do not want to express how I felt when I received the call. Neither do I want to tell you how my heart leapt for joy when they called my name for scooping position three. I cannot put it in words. Maybe, one needs to see me so that I can show by facial expressions how.