About Mwende Ngao

Filmmaker. Writer. Performing Poet. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I dance. Talented Daydreamer. Just the right amount of lazy.

Like a sunset you came,
Blazed the sky with beauty.
I took it in, your wonder
And was breathless.
I heard colour, tasted music.
And stood still, awed.
I wanted to gaze upon you,
Endlessly, forever.
But alas, sunsets are finite.
You were here,
And then you weren’t.
Like a wonderful dream,
Followed by darkness
And silence.

Anyone that thinks tribe is not an issue in Kenya is kidding themselves. I am not talking about the ethnic hatred but a political correctness that is doing more harm than the good it is intended for.

What stories are we telling about ourselves? As a writer, I’ve been shocked to find that most of our TV characters do not have authentic Kenyan names. They all have neutral names that are mostly in Swahili like Mali, Kazi and the like. Is everyone in Kenya from the coast? Why are we so afraid to tell authentic Kenyan stories with names like Omondi, Njuguna, Mutisya and the like in them? The only programs with these names are the slapstick comedies.

I must reiterate here that ethnicity is a wonderful thing and only becomes a problem when it is negative. We have adopted a ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’ mentality when it comes to tribe in Kenya. There is no healthy Continue reading

There has been justified uproar in the art community over the shenanigans that took place at the Kenyan pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. The Venice Biennale is one of the most important fixtures in the art world. It brings together artists, art critics and art lovers from all over the world. Countries are given pavilions to show their best work to the world. The pavilions are owned by their respective countries and are a show of national pride or at least should be.

There are varying reports to whether this is Kenya’s first time in Venice as it’s indicated otherwise on the Venice Biennale website. If this is truly Kenya’s second time in Venice, the situation is even sadder than earlier imagined. No one noticed the first time Kenya participated and the second time was noticed for all the wrong reasons.

If you are still unaware, Kenya’s participation at the Venice Biennale has been marred by confusion and what can rightly be termed as misrepresentation. The Kenyan pavilion is being curated by an Italian, Paola Poponi, that is unknown in art circles and has only two Kenyan artists, Kivuthi Mbuno, Chrispus Wangombe Wachira, and Continue reading

Power of Words Image

Contemporary literature in Kenya from Kenyan writers is hard to come by. It’s a sad reality. The truth is that it’s difficult to get published especially locally. Most writers opt to self-publish which is an expensive venture. That being said, it is always welcomed news when a Kenyan writer publishes a book. It is even more welcome when the said book is a collection of poetry.

In 2011, a few poets met at Central Park to discuss the putting together of their poems in a book. The idea was spearheaded by an ambitious young man, Chris Mukasa, who fronts Kenya Poets Lounge.  The community of poets involved in the project grew with most conversations happening via email. Almost three years later, the project has finally seen the light of day. The book has been published and is titled, ‘The Power of Words.’

The Power of Words was launched at Memorial Park on Saturday June 8th in a simple but wonderful event. There were poets reading their work from the book as well as speakers giving motivational talks. Music from upcoming and talented artists and a generally relaxed ambiance made for an enjoyable event.

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When you can be yourself,
Unreservedly.
When you can take out,
Your own skin,
And wear it.
And it’s a perfect fit.

Sitting,
In my own skin.
It’s strange yet familiar,
Like a childhood bed.
Long discarded,
Long forgotten,
Yet still remembered.
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Model: Ahmed Salim

He’s tall, dark and handsome. Fits neatly into the exclusive club of the ‘sculpted out of rock’ which the rest that fall into the ‘formed out of clay’ can only wish to be in. I see him see me watching him watching me. Are those chills? Yes! He just proved to me that piercing eyes exist beyond the realm of books. Perhaps I’ve never noticed coz my face is always buried in a book. Oh no, he’s walking up to me! I have to show him my good side.

I grab ‘Othello’ from the shelf but quickly put it back. That is a bit morbid. I am morbid but I don’t want him to know that just yet. ‘The Importance of being Ernest’ is my final pick as he comes up to me. That should show off my witty sense of humour. He’s looking for a book to buy his sister for her birthday and is wondering if I can help him pick out something. “Sure,” I coo. Continue reading