RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Poetry shines at NuVo Arts


It was a night of unity and diversity in the appreciation of artistic expression. The emotional performances and responses told of shared experiences - making the NuVo Poetry Night the highlight of the NuVo Arts Festival which debuted in Kampala on July 1.

Just why the festival organiser Coutinho Kemiyondo chose the theme “No Statistics Allowed” is intriguing, given the world’s obsession with “statistics.” Was it a veiled swipe at the “experts” to stop brainwashing us with “statistics” and confront the real issues affecting humanity?
Kenya's Checkmate Mido performing at NuVo Poetry Night in Kampala
 Whatever the case, the main performers that Thursday night, the Lantern Meet of Poets, were true to the theme. Founder member Raymond Ojakol told Saturday Monitor, “We were looking for poetry with fewer facts but with an emotional message that people can relate to, something that would cause them to think but mostly feel.”

The performances
That is how six of the 10 performances ended up tackling HIV/Aids; the confusion resulting from society’s perceptions, myths and their demystification, and tales of people who are living positive but can hold up their heads amidst the stigma.

Winnie Apio’s poem about a 16-year-old girl who was born with HIV/Aids and is struggling to find acceptance was moving.

“Sounds of hate” echo in her world as she drags “her loneliness like a tail misplaced at birth/not understanding why” she is so despised for a predicament she played no part in bringing about. Even Juliet Kaboneire’s dramatisation of For Seasons and Droughts, rich with imagery and colourful symbolism was memorable.

The poem is about knowing who you are and what you are and has this inspirational climax: “Wake up and live/Be that loud roar/ Of a never-ending wave/ That brave new voice/ You know what you have to do/Just be patient and wait/For good things come to those who wait.”

But it is Norah Namara’s poignant performance that drew rivulets of tears from the audience.
The monologue is about a 15-year-old whose gullibility makes her easy prey; she gets infected from her first sexual encounter and lives to regret it: “Society has deemed me worthless, serving as an example of what should not be... Though I must submit to the punishment, I will not allow to be counted among the statistics. With my scars, I will tread this earth with my head held high...With each tear that falls, I will tell that little girl in the mirror that is all going to be okay.”

So penetrative was Norah’s performance it ceased to be a stage-act and became real.
Yet it was a new experience to her: “I’ve not always been a performer in regards to poetry and drama. I had even planned on cancelling the writing and presentation because I felt I wasn’t ready; I thought it would be quite draining emotionally and I thought I would not pull it off as desired, but my friends from the Lantern Meet pushed me.”

Well, Norah’s perfect enunciation, timing and the ability to bring such affecting emotion to her performance could land her a major role on the small screen.

Peter Kagayi’s protest poem, Mr. Foreign Aid excited the audience. It is a personification of foreign aid as the evil, racist “Africa’s new Mr King Leopold” bent on exterminating Africans.

Identifying with the audience
Another ‘outburst’ came in from Kenyan writer and performer Ogutu Muraya. His charged presentation of Life Sucks got the audience up and echoing how life sucks indeed, because of the poem’s wordplay and how it captures issues that affect us all, from the hypocritical leader, to the fake education system and the unfairness of it all.

It was overall a night to vent, release pent-up emotions, and purge the souls of the impurities and frustrations this unfair world brings. Only art forms like these provide catharsis just as Kenyan musician cum poet, Checkmate Mido told me after his stirring performance of Tabasam, a song about a girl, a friend of his, whose artistic ambitions came crushing down when she got raped.

Even the veins on Ife Piankhi’s neck stood out as she moved about the room, accompanied by guitar strings, singing from the heart, begging her audience to “come, come closer” and “feel” the passions reverberating inside of her.

The showcases and the strong reception proved there is an unstoppable hunger; this new breed will not brook anymore about the things that affect them, but will through such art forms continue to speak out and spread awareness till they are heard and attended to.

This is what NuVo, which is an acronym for “New Voices” is all about -- it is about voices in the struggle for social justice.

--Saturday Monitor, July 13, 2013