“Ati wewe ni mrefu mpaka unauzia helicopter njugu.” You are so tall, you can easily sell peanuts to passing helicopters. The audience pauses, digests, and then explodes into laughter. The joke is hilarious, but it takes some time to absorb the fact that the young figure on stage actually let it out. Mchongoano is a form of Kenyan-made stand-up comedy common with kids and teenagers. At the Storymoja Nyamachoma Fiesta on Sunday, August 10th, the fun-sparked Mchongoano sessions lit up the mid-morning. Alongside other activities, such as the Storytelling Finals and Spelling Bee Finals for kids, the Mchongoano sessions guaranteed fun for everyone.
There also were workshops and discussions going on for all those who wanted to explore themselves and tap into their creative and intellectual talents. For the ladies, three sessions in the Women in Leadership studio helped them see how they could develop financially, and balance their work and personal lives and still be happy individuals.
The Men were Under Attack at a session led by Oyunga Pala of the well known ‘Man Talk’ column. This was a lively and confrontational session where the changing roles of the modern Kenyan man were examined. The discussions at the General Fiction and Business Book Clubs centred around East African writing, the issues that affect us, and how they are reflected in a writer’s work.
Writers, actual and aspiring, got to explore their challenges, different career avenues, and ways of finding fulfilment in writing at the Publishing, Careers in Writing and Poetry Studios. The guest facilitators, all experts in their fields, included Bantu Mwaura, editor of Jahazi, Billy Kahora of Kwani?, Wayua Muli, Editor of True Love, Agatha Verdadero, a publisher, Tony Mochama aka “Smitta”, Hawa Essuman, actress and film producer, and Imani Woomera, a spoken word maestro. As you can imagine, the sessions were quite popular.
The Strength through Diversity workshop was graced by His Excellency The Nigerian High Commissioner Dr. Wigwe. It was a forum that allowed participants to look at case studies of other countries that have managed to grow past ethnic conflict towards cultural understanding and tolerance. It too was well attended.
A large number of business-minded individuals discussed Customer Service and Retail procedures at sessions run by Mildred Awiti, a corporate sales trainer, and David Aoll, commercial director of Storymoja.
The Storyhippo Kids Club was one of the busiest and most fun tents, alight with storytelling sessions, peace workshops, book discussions, drawing and colouring, face painting, as well as bouncing castles and other games. Ah, to remain a kid forever!
The main event of the day was the Storytelling Finals. This year’s storytelling campaign was themed Storytelling for Peace. It drew participants from fifty learning institutions across Nairobi. The stories, borrowed from many different cultures, highlighted the fact that we are all the same, we are just packaged differently. We can benefit from learning to live together in peace despite our differences.
All this was topped by music by Anto and GrandMaster Masese, not to mention food and drink aplenty, including the ever popular nyamachoma.
The Storymoja Fiesta was designed with Kenyans in mind, to link active reading to creative thinking, and personal growth with the country’s economic growth. The event was meant to help everyone embark on the road to active reading by following up on personal growth activities that require reading and writing. Making all this entertaining was a main goal that was by all reports achieved, even exceeded.
The Storymoja Nyamachoma Fiesta was indeed a celebration of Kenyan stories!