Celebrating East African Writing!
Before I left Kenya I had picked up a cold and it was wearing me down on the flight to the UK via Dubai.
It was a long flight and we had to be on transit in Dubai for three hours. Pressure (air) in my ears made me wail as we were about to land and I was in deep pain. I was really sick but I vumiliad. I could not hear what the people were saying as my ears were blocked. It actually sent me into a bad. I was fine; a man must live.
Now walking around Dubai airport was like walking along Paradise with streets and shops and glass all over. It is amazing how the technology of the Middle East is developing. I mean you see it the moment you land in the airport. Big buses, nice and comfortable to take you from the runway to the lifts and check-in. I did not explore much of Dubai apart from the airport. It were a fantastic experience for me.
Well, in the troupe I was with Isaac Anyanga, Alice Karunditu, Sitawa Namwalie, the author of the anthology of poems, Amimo Olembo, Chichi Seii, Joshua Ogutu Muraya, Isaac Anyanga, Sitawa Namwalie, Alice Karunditu, Muthoni Garland and Shan Bartley.
We landed at Heathrow Airport and it was amazing to see the London skyscrapers.
At Hampstead Theater where we had our first performance, we were amazed at how the lighting was so professional and efficiently operational at the touch of a button and the lights changed. No static lighting but rotating lights with effects just automatic at the touch of a button.
Many Kenyans living in the UK came to support us at the London’s Hampstead Theater and Centerprise Trust. I can’t forget Emmanuel Amevor, Namvula, and Martin Mbugua Kimani for their work in making the shows happen. Some Kenyans saw the performance twice while there are those who came to the Hay Festival to give us a Kenyan support with the foreign audience.
In fact one of our fears was that the show would not go well with the audience which was from around the world but we were shocked that they received it very well and we had more laughs and more interaction with them so much. They liked the presentation and the music so much.
Then there was the market. Camden market is like the Gikomba of Nairobi but not in the same way, it is the biggest market that I went to. There you get everything. But I can say that London is quite expensive. We went to Camden market for two days where we shopped for percussion instruments from a Philippine seller who sells mainly African instruments and to purchase the drum to replace a broken one. On one night we went to Camden Lock Side Lounge for beer and experienced Caribbean music.
I never quite really saw a night in Europe, they are so short. The sun is up at 4am in the morning and it sets at 11pm. It was so confusing. The security here is so hi-tech including automatic keys and doors. Streets and all houses on CCTV. You can imagine how they even make those crazy videos. If Kaz were here, she couldn’t complain of nude pictures but talk of videos! I am saying, it is so tight to the hole including the underground. Imagine speed cameras on highways. It is crazily amazing that all this is here. I can’t imagine them in Kenya.
The transport system here works so quick and efficiently. The tunnels and tubes and the over ground/underground amazed me so much. That you are travelling underneath the city where the phones networks never work was breath taking.Fast.I have known underground in Nairobi to mean artists who are not mainstream; here underground means transport.
Amazingly, in the UK I didn’t see any trouble at all in terms of insecurity. The cameras are everywhere and this means no jobs for watu wa rungu, watchmen.
We then went the following day to Twickenham Rugby Stadium to watch Kenya play Wales to win the bowl. I have never watched the Virgin boys live in Kenya before but here was a moment and a chance to see them live in a global stage representing Kenya and they did us proud. Near the stadium we had bought a Kenyan flag that made us receive mad cheers and love from foreigners who really love Kenya’s steady rise in rugby. They wanted to be associated with Kenyans and so many of them joined us on the terraces cheering for Kenya, all clad in Kenyan colors’. Rugby gives Kenyans honors and I believe if we do well in other sports, then we are going to be celebrated a lot.
I visited the Museum of London and learnt of the greatest fire that destroyed the city in 1665, went to London Bridge, Hyde Park, the Tower Bridge and the Thames bank walk and to Shakespeare’s globe where he wrote plays and acted and Birmingham Palace. Now these guys can smoke outside the church but not inside, not in any building since the 1665 fire that destroyed London. Can you imagine that in Kenya?
At Hay festival was Desmond Tutu, amongst others. Our performance was recorded by the BBC for broadcast. But the highlight was the Hugh Masekela concert where he paid tribute to Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba, and the disadvantaged people in the society. The show attracted a crowd of about 7,000 people and we enjoyed the music so much dancing till mid night. He also talked of his new CD, Pola which means to be cool, and it was on sale. In fact before his show, Masekela was eating just a table away from our crew and he came over to say hallo, but do I say.
The Hay festival treated us like mini kings and queens; a crew to show us around, including the changing rooms and all. I learned that the whole of Hay On Wye town, which is very small, has people who read books and write with a dedication unmatched anywhere and it has more bookshops than shops and pubs.
The arts in the UK are taken seriously and there are various art competitions that are held in all the arts. The fact that I went to England and Wales to me was a great honor and a dream come true for I have always wanted to travel and perform in different spaces.
© Dennis Duncan Mossiere 2009
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