Kenyan poetry is an arts field that’s commendably on a steady rise. With the onset of events such as Street Poetry, Hisia Zangu Poetry Workshop, Poetry Spot, Eve Of Poetry, Fatuma’s Voice, and others, talent is being raised everyday. There is obviously a big disconnect between Kenya’s old poets and the current folk as the art hasn’t really been accorded the appreciation it deserves throughout the country. We had names like Shokat Habib, Raju Umamaheswar, Sam Mbure, Marjorie Oludhe, Stoa Pokile, Otieno Amisi and many others who rocked the 70s and 80s with their literary prowess. A lot whose stars did not shine long enough to be appreciated by the current crop of poets, probably because of the scarcity of their works. We do know a few of them though.
Kenyan Poets Lounge, however, sought to leave a mark by publishing Kenya’s first anthology titled, ‘THE POWER OF WORDS’, launched in June 2013, and comprises of a good number of young and urban poets who seek to revolutionize the dormant appreciation of poetry in the country. It might surprise you to learn that the book went out of stock within the first two weeks after launch. A revelation that Kenyans are thirsty for poetry. They just don’t know where to get it and how. That brings up the question of branding and marketing it.
There has been a number of articles in the newspapers concerning the quality of poems from the current crop of our poets. They spark heated debates that remain endless to date. One thing’s for sure, there needs to be a mentorship program that will promote a healthy circulation and understanding of old and young poets. Our teachers in secondary school make poetry sound so boring that majority of students shy away from it. Well, for me, it was the only interesting thing in class than those Chemistry lessons in which I yawned with every five minutes that passed. We cannot live without poetry, and as a result, I have dedicated my life to see to it that it is appreciated to its billing in both the young and the old, professionals and nonprofessionals. It does not make me a hero because there are many other people around this country who are doing the same. What we need to work at most is to spread the awareness outside Nairobi, because the rest of Kenya needs it so bad.
Namatsi Lukoye is one of Kenya’s household names in the poetry scene. She has pioneered Hisia Zangu Poetry Workshop among other projects that have propelled the improvement of the art especially in Nairobi. I of course will have to mention the wonderful team she has worked with over the years, the likes of Richard Oduor (Richie Maccs), Kevin Orato, Sharon Ogugu, Koa Jagero, Kaffy Mwangi, Amare Poeta, among others.
This Saturday, Namatsi launches her debut spokenword album at the Safaricom Michael Joseph Centre from 6pm. It comprises of poems that tell of her poetry journey, a meeting that you most certainly do not want to miss if you love art.
Entry is only 250/- and the album goes for the same amount. I am certainly looking forward to this. See you there!
Follow Namatsi on twitter —–>> @Namatsiluki