It was an unrealistically beautiful experience. A packed programme with so many fantastic options from Lemn Sissay the larger than life performance poet, Dinaw Mengestu, winner of 2007 Guardian first book award for his novel,Children of the Revolution to Sitawa Namwilie,author of Cut off my Tongue. The 13th to 17th September 2012 will hardly be forgotten.
The poets at Lemn Sissay's class, storymoja hay fest 2012
The winners of the 2012 BN Poetry Award Susan Piwang and Paula Biraaro, attended the festival as part of their prize and surprisingly blew me away when they recited their winning pieces during the poetry gala on the morning of the 14th at the storymoja amphitheater, Nairobi Museum. By the way, that museum puts ours to shaaaaaaaaaame. There you can carry out parallel workshops, play music and charge an entry fee without the fear of the artefacts crumbling under too much wind.
During the effervescent Lemn Sissay’s poetry masterclass, he said one important thing, among many. The stage should be the last place a poem should be. Every poet will remember that. And then Dinaw, sigh, what a writer! I told him that he is the type of writer that can easily write with a female protagonist without the readers figuring it out. His first novel Children of the Revolution started his career and from the deliberate and careful way he selects his words before speaking, it is no doubt his career will make him leap bounds. Oh, and he hates these over used words like She smiled. He was like, what kind of smile? It should be specific to the character. I chaired the discussion of his book and fund out, he also believes in writing for social change! Yeiiii!
Bev and Dinaw Mengestu after his writing masterclass
The second night we were hosted at a grand dinner at Muthoni Garland’s house (read palace). You have never seen anything like it. The founder of the storymoja Hay Fest cut no corners when it came to building her home sweeter than home. My eyes got drunk with all the magnificence. It was a cosy dinner where I got to talk to Giles Foden who by the way doesn’t talk much, no sir! Curt answers, well, at least I got a photo.
Bev and Giles Foden, author of Last King of Scotland (Muthoni's house in background)
Lots of artists, Precious Williams, Lola Shoneyin, Akil,Eurig the Welsh poet, Lauri Kubuitsile, a prolific and most down to earth writer from the continent I have met. Then the unmistakable John Sibi Okumu of Zain Africa Challenge who talks on and on and on, I guess to match his stature. He is an interesting person to listen to.
It was gwangamanga mwah mwah mwah. Can there be a Hay Festival in Uganda? You tell me. Susan, Paula and I were the only Ugandans from Uganda , so make sure you're there next time, you will love it-I did!
Some of us at the British Council farewell reception