Storymoja Hay Festival Ends! – Bye, Bye,

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:

Joanne Ball-Burgess
Joanne Ball-Burgess

joanne dancing

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.

Mistik Natural dancing
Mistik Natural Dancing with Teachers & Students

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.

Dizraeli singing
Dizraeli Singing

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 interncrop 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.

Mistik Natural kids drumming
Kids Drumming with Mistik Natural

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.


Blog Giveaway Winner!! – Congratulations

Tickets1We offered a Ticket up for grabs to our readers.  Thank you Amari Bakery for contributing to the Ticket.

Questions were:

1. What type of Oven does Amari bakery use?

Answer: A Cookswell Charcoal Oven

2. Impress us with the reason why you really want to go to the Festival.

Our Winner!!!


Lucy Njeri really wants to sit in the Professor Wole Soyinka lecture. She wants to hang at the Careerpedia tent too. She put in a good argument online (facebook messages…lol ^_^) and offline.  I’m so happy to give her the ticket and hope she has a good time there.

Congratulations Lucy!!

So, Lucy is going, I hope you are too!!

It’s next week, be there….

Related Content:

Blog Giveaway – Tickets

Blog Giveaway – One Ticket to Storymoja Hay Festival 2014

The Storymoja Hay Festival is 7 Days Away..they’re moving very fast, Speeding I tell you….

It’s been an exciting journey on my end.  Going through the program, working with the other interns as we prepare to be part of the festival.  We now have our jobs and know what our roles will be during the festival.  We’re excited to meet you at the festival, and help you out, as you experience the Storymoja Hay Festival.

If you’re coming, and have your ticket, Great! Count the days!

If you’re not convinced and are on the fringe, here are a few things that you mustn’t Miss:


What is a Storymoja Hay Festival Masterclass?

It is an interactive 3 hour session that draws from the Session Leader’s experience to encourage and inspire creatives…Session Leaders are Writers, Poets, Musicians, Filmmakers, Journalists, Illustrators, Affluent Entrepreneurs and many more…brought together by Storymoja Festival

Masterclasses are wonderful for people interested in a particular industry. People who want to learn more about writing both fiction and non-fiction.  There are blogging masterclasses.  There are topics on film, poetry and art, even entrepreneurship.

Expect to see Vuyelwa Maluleke, Chief Nyamweya, Alexander Nderitu, Mathew Shenoda, Dilman Dila, Prajwal Parajuly, Tony Mochama, Jackson Biko, Dizraeli & L-ness and so many more….

An Example: 

Masterclass: How to Make Awesome Comics with Chief Nyamweya

Roba v. Poachers Photo Courtesy of

It is scheduled on Wednesday 17th from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm.  If you’re interested in drawing comics or even reading them, sign up for the class and spend these three hours having a conversation with Chief Nyamweya who is a talented and creative illustrator, you’ve read his work, Roba published by The Star newspaper, if not go check it out! You get to ask him questions about his work, the industry, and any other burning questions you might have.  He too will ask you questions.  You’re welcome to having a lively discussion in this space.  If you want to be an illustrator, this is the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about what it takes.

Sign UP Here for this particular Masterclass.

Cost: Kshs. 500 per Masterclass. (On top of your Festival Entrance Fee)

Masterclasses are scheduled for Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 – Friday, September 19th, 2014

Visit this Link for More Masterclasses.  Sign UP now so you don’t miss a Spot.  You don’t want to miss a Discussion with your favorite Writer, Poet, Filmmaker, Journalist, Artist, Musician….so many are coming.

Children’s Program

Joanne Ball-Burgess

This runs from Wednesday September 17th, 2014 to Friday September 19th, September

We’ll have loads of students coming to the Festival and experiencing the different sessions prepared just for them.  There will be stories and songs at the Koko Riko Tent, Dance with Poetry at the Kanga Tent.  The Kanga Tent will have Joanne Ball-Burgess from Bermuda.  She’s an accomplished Dancer and a Sakata Dance Competition Judge.  Don’t miss out on this!

There are Spoken Word sessions with Dizraeli (UK) and L-ness (Kenya)  Find the Careerpedia Tent where students get Tips from Successful Entreprenuers like Rose Maket from Alive & Kicking and Ritesh Doshi (Naked Pizza).  There are so many guests, I can’t name them all, you just have to make it to the festival.  Parents, get your kids to this three-day Program if possible.  The festival is hosting over 2,000 students.  Don’t be left out!!

Cost: Kshs. 1,000 at the GATE.

Weekend Events

WEEKEND Events include The Launch of Diaper Mentality Exhibition and an Exhibition of Our Nairobi: A Westgate Memorial.

Enter the Dome for a Wangari Maathai Memorial Lecture with Professor Wole Soyinka (Nigeria).

The Careerpedia Tent has fun reading sessions.  Have a conversation with Ms. Joanne Ball-Burgess, Shariffa Keshavjee, and Harriet Matsaert.  There will be a children’s book launch happening.   H_ART the Band is in house at the Courtyard discussing poetry with other Kenyan poets.  Teju Cole is in house celebrating Nigerian Writers.  Filmmaker Kenny Man launches her film Beautiful Tree, Severed Roots.  The Drumbeats Romance Series brings a session on How Do Africans Kiss? With the Drumbeats Writers and Editors. (Hot Discussion. Don’t miss it!)

Explore the Program Schedule, it’s packed with amazing events that will leave you excited, inspired, and wanting to change the world! Both on Saturday and Sunday!

I hope that is enough to convince you to come……What?

Not Enough yet?….Well…..

Alright…. how about……

After 7 PM on Saturday, it’s time to Party!!!

Saturday Night, One Time Performance….

One Stage you get SAUTI SOL(Kenya) , DIZRAELI (UK) AND BERRY HEART (Botswana)!!

Sauti Sol – Band

One big stage, all you have to do is bring those books you don’t read in your house, you know the ones on a shelf you pass by everyday without giving them a thought.  Those ones, bring them over and help fill a parked Matatu (public service Van) with books.  The goal is to help Storymoja’s START – A – LIBRARY stock school libraries!! Great Cause right…….(****lost in thought***)

Sorry, I was just imagining @Sauti Sol on stage, singing…Dizraeli…getting down on stage…And Berry Heart…giving a heart stopping performance…yeah, no sleep required on Saturday!!..

The ticket for this Event is separate from your Entrance Fee!


Yeah, I know….but you can just buy the ticket for this which is Kshs. 1,000.  Show up at 7 pm, and experience the concert. (If you do this, we’ll miss you during the day….^_^) So, we hope you get both the day’s ticket and the Concert Ticket.  Support Start-a-Library.

Okay!! Now you really must come to the Festival! #GetFestivalTickets

I really hope to see you guys at the Festival.  We’re counting down the days now. I’m excited, nervous…excited…what about you?  Hey, go get a ticket so we meet there okay. Storymoja Hay FestivalYou don’t want to be left out of this!!

Now for the Blog Giveaway!!

Blog Giveaway

I have the hook-up for one lucky person!  Only one!

Saturday passIt’s a FREE TICKET – SATURDAY EVENTS FROM 9am to 7 pm

This blog is collaborating with a fabulous Online Bakery named Amari Bakery to sponsor one (1)person for the Storymoja Hay Festival Saturday Events.

Event: Storymoja Hay Festival

Date: Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Location: Nairobi National Museum

Time: 9 am to 6 pm.

There are night events, as the Sauti Sol concert is scheduled for 7 pm. (This is a separate charge however. (It is not included in our free ticket.)

What to do:

Answer the Following Two questions to the best of your ability:

1. What Type of Oven does  Amari Bakery use?

(Answer should be the type of Oven and the Name of the Company.)

2. Tell us Why You REALLY, REALLY Want to go to the Storymoja Hay Festival.  Impress us with your answer!

Amari Bakery and I will choose the winner and Make an Announcement by Friday September 12th, 2014.

1 (One) Free Ticket

Don’t worry, the winner will get their ticket delivered personally by me or the Amari Bakery Rep.  Here’s a picture of the Ticket!

Let’s go!

Ticket Available through collaboration with:

Amari Logo

Storymoja Festival – Interns Meet at the Nairobi National Museum

Saturday was full of fun.

All the Storymoja Festival Interns met at the Nairobi National Museum for orientation of the Festival Venue. We also got to meet Mrs. Muthoni Garland, the Festival Founder. She gave us tips on confidence and how to engage an audience. We also met Mr. Wallace Garland who did a fun-filled team work workshop.


Planning040Black and White035014013

You’ll get to meet these fabulous ladies and gentlemen at the Festival.  They’ll be the ones checking your ticket, making sure you find the right hall, helping you with any questions you might have. 


Photos Courtesy of : The Fabulous Linda Wairegi  @wairegi_linda

Via @StorymojaFest

We’re eager to meet you!!

Storymoja Hay Festival

17th to 21st September, 2014

Nairobi National Museum


Somewhere Else by Mathew Shenoda – Poetry Review

somewhere elseSomewhere Else

by Mathew Shenoda

From the river Nile to the teeming streets of Cairo, from the indigenous, pre-Islamic Egyptian Coptic civilization to an America struggling with its fear of the Arab world, Shenoda’s poems recall the sacred traditions of an ancient, enduring culture as they widen the political conversation surrounding ethnicity, pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism. This notable collection spans generational, political and cultural divides, providing a nuanced perspective virtually unknown in the West.

Publisher: Coffee House Press, Minneapolis

Purchase Here: Somewhere Else on Amazon


Favorite Poems from this Book:

Excerpt of Somewhere Else

There will come a day when they say: 
who do you think you are 
and another day will come 
for you to tell. 

On that day the story will appear 
but do not tell of yourself 

tell the story of the staff that blossomed in the desert
or the one about your enemy’s greatest victory

tell the story of somewhere else...Read This Poem

Excerpt of New Cairo

…I stand on the balcony, staring

Withdrawn from this poverty by a mere Generation,

Then I remember

Great Grandmother used to say:

“If you throw salt away

God will make you

Pick it up

One grain at a time

with your eyelashes”

Take a moment and just imagine what it would take to actually collect salt one grain at a time with your eyelashes.  Yes, there would be tears, what an impossible task, you’d say.  At first, I laughed at the idea of Great Grandmother’s statement, but then you think about it and it’s eye opening. If you’re desperate you’ll do it, right?  You’ll find a way to collect that salt with your eyes, but what a painful process that would be.  So, don’t throw away a good thing…hmm…

Mathew Shenoda’s thought-provoking Poetry = Stunning, Effortless Truths

Elly in Nairobi Thoughts

Mathew Shenoda writes poetry with a deep love for heritage and culture.  There is always that sense of go back, think about where you come from, how it has shaped you, why you are this person today. I think this book reminds me to remember where am from and where I belong.  Where is home? What does that word mean really?

Time changes, as it must, we all change, but even with change, stop and embrace what your past is, how you’ve gotten here.  What were your ancestors’ hopes, one day you’ll be the one they’ll call ancestor.  What do you want them to think of you?

Meet Mathew Shenoda at the Storymoja Hay Festival:

  Matthew-Shenoda-profile-Masterclass: Critiquing & Editing Poetry
  With: Matthew Shenoda (Egypt/USA) & Ladan Osman (Somalia/USA), Keguro Macharia (Kenya)
  Time: Thur 18th September 2:30pm – 5:30pm
  Venue: Nairobi National Museum @ the STORYMOJA FESTIVAL
 About the Masterclass: POETRY DOCTORS
One of the most essential elements of poetry writing is the process of editing alongside self critique and peer critique. In this workshop we will examine various ways of conceptualizing work as a writer engages the writing process and as a way to gain a critical understanding of one’s own writing. We will then look at a rubric for editing and critiquing that helps the poet reach the aims they set out to achieve in their writing.


Storymoja Festival Countdown – Day 29

Alexander-Nderitu-profileDay 29Countdown to the Storymoja Festival 2014


Come Meet:::

Alexander Nderitu is a Kenyan Writer and IT expert. In 2001, he became one of Africa’s first ‘digital novelists’ with the Internet publication of his signature thriller, ‘When the Whirlwind Passes’.
‘The Nairobian’ newspaper has dubbed him ‘the face of digital publishing in the country’.
He is currently the Deputy Secretary-General of PEN Kenya. His most recent works are ‘The Moon is Made of Green Cheese‘ (poetry) and ‘Kiss, Commander, Promise’ (short stories).
  His literature is available in English, Japanese and Arabic.
Published Works
  – ‘When the Whirlwind Passes’ (2001)
– ‘The Moon is Made of Green Cheese’ (2008)
– ‘Kiss, Commander, Promise’ (2011)
– ‘Africa on My Mind’ (2013)

(Information courtesy of Storymoja Festival…read more)

Storymoja Hay Festival – Nairobi 2014

We’re gearing up for the Storymoja Hay Festival in September.  When I first got in as a volunteer in June, those months seemed so long.  Now we have less than forty days to the day. Taking a deep breath, whoa.  Truthfully, I’m a bit nervous, but plenty excited.

Are you ready?  I hope you are, coz we’re excited to meet you there! Get your Ticket!!


Who’s Coming You Ask

The festival is hosting authors, poets, musicians and Film Makers from around the world, and Africa.  Among them being Nobel Prize Laureate Wole Soyinka, Dizraeli, Kenny Man, Photographer Boniface Mwangi among others.  Check out the Full List!

Reasons To Come to  The Storymoja Hay Festival Nairobilove-writing

1. Do you love Writing, Reading Books?

2. Do you love Writing, Reading Poetry?

3. Do you love Making, Watching Films/Movies?

4. Do you love Creating, Listening to Music?

5. Is Art your Life, Your Expression, Your  reason to be?

If you answered YES to All these questions or just One of these questions, then I think you should get on over to the Storymoja Hay Festival, and let’s have some fun for FIVE WHOLE days!!

I’m thinking, @Sauti Sol might make an appearance at this Event.  I love their music, and I’m sure so do you.  Let’s show our support and go meet them too!

Okay, this volunteer is hoping to see you all there.  I’m told it will be busy, and I won’t get time to even think, still, I’m looking forward to it.

I hope you all come so, #GetFestivalTickets

Dates: 17th to 21st September, 2014

Location: Nairobi National Museum, located on Museum Hill


Kshs. 1,000 Per day

Kshs. 1,500 for the pass

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