"Silence is a Woman" and "The Vagina Monologues": Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 Highlights

by - 15:22

At the beginning of this week I mentioned that the Storymoja Hay Festival was taking place 19-22 of September in Nairobi. As I'm still lusting over the Programme and I also did promise I would share a few highlights of the upcoming Festival, I thought I would showcase two of their Premier Events - Silence is A Woman and The Vagina Monologues

I first watched the Vagina Monologues in 2009 during my Masters when a benefit performance was organised by students at LSE for  Women's Aid and V-Day to end violence against women. I had heard of the play, but never really paid any attention to it as I honestly had no idea what it was about. Then I watched it, absolutely loved it and wondered why it took me so long to pay attention to it. It is a great play that gets you to really take a look and think about women's experiences. It would definitely be amazing to watch again. 

It would also be great to see Silence is A  Woman. My first introduction to Sitawa Namwalie was much later - it was when I read a review of Cut Off My Tongue on ImageNations. Then I watched this YouTube clip and a few months ago I read an essay, Silence is A Woman, by Wambui Mwangi in The New Inquiry, which cited these few lines:

Let's speak a simple truth:
The average man can
without much planning
take by force
most average women in the world, 
all average children

Her words seem so powerful, so if you're in Nairobi and attending the Festival, please watch one (or both) for me. Thank you!!!  Here's more details on them and also a BIG thank you to Juliet Maruru for sharing these two events with me. And you can find out more on the Festival's website

Silence is A Woman is a new show premiering at the Storymoja Hay Festival on Saturday 21st September at 7:30 pm at the Nairobi National Museum.

Poetry and Powerful Words will Rock Your World! Most people would not willingly subject themselves to an evening of poetry for fear of terminal boredom. Yet the poetry of Sitawa Namwalie is rewriting the rule books. Her shows of dramatised poetry have captivated and inspired audiences in Kenya and in the UK where they have been performed since June 2008. 

What is it to be Kenyan? Why is it important for you to settle that question for yourself? Find out this and more in a new exciting dramatised poetry production by Sitawa Namwalie titled Silence is a Woman. This new show is as provocative as her earlier work Cut Off My Tongue. 

Silence is a Woman chronicles the journey of a woman, and the journey of Kenya as they both move through history, telling, re-telling and experiencing narratives that continue to haunt this nation. It reminds us that we are on a quest to heal ourselves by asking the right questions and by reclaiming our stories. The story of tribe is revisited in old updated conversations. Sitawa gives us a peek into our recent history again retelling stories of the Kenyan nation's difficult past. How many people remember the late Chelagat Mutai who became the first Kalenjin MP in 1972 at 24 years?

In this breathtaking collection she is joined by the voices of Ogutu Muraya, a playwright and Michael Onsando a poet and writer who bring a new twist to old stories.

The Vagina Monologues is happening Sunday 22nd September at 7:30pm also at the Nairobi National Museum.

What is it? The award-winning play is based on V-Day Founder/playwright Eve Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women. With humour and grace the piece celebrates women's sexuality and strength. Through this play and the liberation of this one word, countless women throughout the world have taken control of their bodies and their lives. For more than twelve years, The Vagina Monologues, has given voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed in public.

The monologues have happened all over the world, and in Kenya, this will be the third performance this year. The previous 2 shows which happened early in the year were both sold out.
The cast includes: Mũmbi Kaigwa, June Gachui, Savanne Kemoli, Patricia Kihoro, Aleya Kassam, Lorna Irungu

What others say about it? By turns poignant and painful, uproariously funny and deliciously sexy, it was a celebration and appreciation of the wonder, mystery and beauty of vaginas and femininity. These women command our attention, they command our respect, they showed us the huge, hidden power of women; they titillated, they cajoled and convinced, they raged and railed, they appealed to our sense, they appealed to our humanity. They declared "Enough is enough!"

They had us applauding, shrieking, ululating.

One lady, Bea Imathiu, experiencing the Vagina Monologues for the first time, later reflected: "We laughed and cried in equal measure ... I cried from a place so far, the tears didn't fall - I laughed so hard I forgot to be a lady.

Who does it appeal to? Women between the ages 25-50, Liberated, independent career women, Expatriate Crowd

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