The last time I posted, I was caught up in the thick of the festival. The week after that, I was in an another expo. I’m finally getting a week to connect with the blog! Trust me, I’m not complaining. Busy is a good place to be. So, the Storymoja Hay Festival ended. If you came, you must have had a good time.
My highlights from the intern/volunteer side were:
Watching Joanne Ball-Burgess dance with the kids.
She’s so much fun, I sneaked time out from my daily post to go watch her. Her dances were a way to interpret poetry into movement. I loved the way she flowed, created a rhythm in poetry with just a simple movement. It was quite inspiring. It made me think we should definitely choose to dance more than we really do. A short conversation with her, and she confessed she loved dancing with kids. Mostly because they’re not uninhibited. They’ll move with her and enjoy the dance, fueling her own enjoyment. I think that’s just magical.
I loved watching Mistik Natural. The band plays the best music. They had these African Drums that they got the kids to drum. They’d also have a group of kids dancing to the beat of the drums. The session would turn into this fun experience with the kids drumming for other kids to dance. It was a lot of fun. I always hated it when I had to duck out in the middle of the performance to go do my duty…hehe…I had the urge to just stay and dance with the kids and teachers. I loved their music, and their transforming it into a fusion of African drums and dance. Powerful.
My personal favorite, was watching L-ness & Dizraeli perform. I love the roots of hip hop. Which is what Dizraeli and L-ness taught to their audience when they spoke. The rhythm, how it came about, the meaning behind their words, the interpretation. I couldn’t help wanting to keep watching them more, and more. Dizraeli’s poetry is real, his lyrics thought out as he speaks. Most times they have me thinking, no matter the context. I love that his performances were always so involved, he expresses his words with motion. L-ness’s strength is her ability to let a rap go in Swahili. I loved that she owns the stage when she starts rapping. Their sessions were so full of energy.
I sat in a talk held by Mathew Shenoda & Ladan Osman. They spoke of poetry. The differences in teaching it, and how people approach poetry. The highlight of this talk for me was when one teacher asked Mr. Shenoda how to make poetry fun in schools. His answer was perhaps it’s the way students are asked to approach the poetry. Which is always, tell us what you understand from the poetry. What do you get from it? Mr. Shenoda suggested teaching the basics of poetry first. Get the student to understand what Stanzas are, what the rhythm is, types of poems, and why they’re written that way. Once you get students to understand that, then the content of the poem starts to make sense. He made a good argument. Ladan Osman impressed me when she spoke of writing for eight hours straight, possibly more. I was happy to know I’m not the only one who ignores life outside the door and instead chooses life at the keyboard. She was an inspiration to me.
You Know I had to stay for the Saturday Night Concert! Sauti Sol was on that night, I had a Blast!! My sister and I had a moment we lost our heads when Sauti Sol did Nishike! All that man candy, it’s insane to act like a prude. Screaming, shouting, jumping, that’s appropriate reaction. I could have lost my voice that night. Yeah, I love me some Sauti Sol! A lot of exclamation marks in this one right!! Hehe. I think it was the biggest highlight in this festival for me. On a side note, they’re up for several awards. Vote for Sauti Sol Here:
The sessions I chose to enter were music oriented. I love listening to music, poetry, spoken word. It fuels my writing side, more than listening to people talk about writing. So, that’s where I spent most of my time. Dancing with Joanne, Drums with Mistik Natural, Poetry with Ladan and Concerts with Sauti Sol, Dizraeli, L-ness and Berry Heart. My soul was happy.
Elly in Nairobi’s Thoughts
I got a glimpse into this festival, both on the visitor’s side and staff side. I’d joined this festival primarily as a volunteer. People I know, understand the phrase Volunteering for a festival. Others I don’t know gave me the “Why-on-earth-would-you-volunteer-for-something-without-payment-or-getting-something-from-it-look.” You know, I love creativity, and I wanted to see what this festival was about and learn more about the concept of it. Yes, for the experience I had, It was a good choice to volunteer. I wish more people would volunteer for it.
At some point the festival organizers turned our side into an internship program, where you get a letter of recommendation for participating. This drew a lot of university students, which is also good. I doubt they’d get many volunteers in my corner of the world. ^_^ lolz. I say that in a nice way. People would rather get paid for such things.
My job was assisting the many artists who came in, taking them to the various venues, and ensuring no one got lost on the way. The artists, that is, (writers, poets, filmmakers, musicians e.t.c) it was interesting talking to them on the way to the venue. I got a lot of insight from them, which was good. Others, I loved the reaction they’d have once a session was over. They’d be happy and excited from their discussions. That was really fun to see and experience.
Like any job I’ve had, there were challenges. I’d get this moments of trying to balance the ‘Everything is going to be fine‘, and the ‘Oh My God, I can’t believe we can’t solve this‘ moments.
We had two days of no wi-fi, in an artist lounge. You can imagine the unhappy looks one gets from no Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi, such an important thing I tell you. Vital. It makes people happy and very unhappy.
Downside to my job, my feet were killing me. Back and forth, back and forth, I think I can join the marathon now. I walked so much. It was anticipated, but not at that level. I take it as a losing weight thing. If you want to lose some weight, join the festival. ^_^
Biggest negative for me was negative corporate culture. You wonder why I mention this. I understand being the status of interns and volunteers means you’re basically an outsider coming in. I’ve had some wonderful experiences of this. Companies where volunteers keep returning back for more. I worked with one for four years, and I’d get to deal with volunteers coming in every year for the different experiences. The same people each time, it was exhilarating. I wish this experience was like that for me. I’d go back over time, because I do believe in the cause of getting people to meet for such a creative festival. And in my corner of the world, we need more of these types of festivals.
While helping out one of the days before the festival, I had someone tell me, “To stop bothering them and to go away.” I had asked one question. Instead of answering it, I get this answer. This is a small glimpse of some of the comments you’d hear. I liked my festival head, so I ignored it, but it had me thinking.
I told my sister, and she was like, “Why the hell didn’t you walk away right then?” Ohhh, I have the weakness of saying, well, I can ignore this,and continue on. She just shook her head at me. I should have walked away then, but I wanted to see the festival. So I trudged on.
I understand having a temper or a bad attitude, but you’d get someone going off on you because you picked flowers that are marked to go to the festival location. You’re loading them into the truck but this person is upset with you for some reason. While I won’t write out the details of the argument, the gist of it was that this individual had spent time before preparing the flowers. Now, we were loading the flowers to end up at the festival location. I don’t know whether we needed consent, or what, simply said, the argument sounded a tad childish to me. I kept quiet and effectively walked away. It solves a lot of arguments. Removing yourself from them works. That was day 2, going through to day 6, Sunday, I’d had various run-ins with the staff that left me wondering why I’d ever volunteered in the first place.
It’s understandable there are lot of pressures coming from different directions during such a situation. A lot of problems that crop up unexpectedly. There is, however, the need to watch who you take it out on. I think that interns/volunteers get the brunt of permanent staff outbursts. I feel that they take it because it’s expected of them. A right of passage if you will, but it’s not right, and shouldn’t be right. An intern shouldn’t have to take someone’s temper because they’re the permanent staff, and the intern needs a recommendation letter, so they have to listen and bear it. It’s not right. It builds a cycle, because then the intern will find their place,and if they’re bitter, they end up doing the same thing to their intern,and the cycle continues. Hence, the birth and eternal existence of negative corporate culture. Sadly, in some places I don’t think it goes away. It’s worse with women more than men. And I tell you, that’s a big thing since I’m all for women power. Yet, you’ll find it’s harder to get a long with women tempers than the men. I wish this could change.
The festival was a great chance, and I was proud to be part of it. I can’t explain. It was amazing to meet other writers, poets, musicians, and I got inspired to keep writing. My sister and I might be half-in-love with Dizraeli. We recorded all his sessions, say, “Obsessive much?” That’s right, we had a blast, even got his autograph.
As a Volunteer, my journey ended here. Next year, I’ll pay for my ticket. I’ll meet the new interns/volunteers and give them a huge hug. I’ll know what they’re going through, and a hug really helps.
So, on to other things..right?
My inspired inspiration is getting to work now….^_^ get it? No? Oh well….I’m off to write more picture perfect.