Ochieng Adholla, also known as Ochi, is a conscious Kenyan poet and philosopher. His first collection of poems, Panther’s Diary, was published in 2011 by Salonica Press, an Imprint of Seaburn Publishing Group based in New York. His second collection of poems, compiled in 2014 , is a free e-book available on his website.
Anthony ‘Ty’ Ngachira is a 22 year old from Kenya. The budding lawyer took an interest in poetry while in high school but actively pursued it while at university. He has performed at Kenya Slam Africa, Kwani Open Mic, Fatuma’s Voice and Poetry under Stars. He loves poetry because it allows him to be who he wants to be. His work mirrors the African society he has grown up in.
Keith Oleng also known as K.O.K.O is a 29 year old poet, performer and creative director from Kenya.
His journey into the arts started when he was in the theatre arts club at Kakamega High School, where he learned about theatre directing, acting and creative writing. He then went on to study mass communication and film arts in Cetral TAFE College [Australia] and New York Film Academy [USA].
Later he started a communication organization called Oleng Communication, which focuses on understanding and communicating the interests of young people in Africa.
His first poetry collection, titled LOVE, Taken to a Mysterious Place is available for free download on his artist website.
Muki is committed to the Kenyan art scene because he believes he can utilise the power of entertainment to provide education on different key issues affecting the Kenyan population.
Over the past few years he has conducted interviews at The Hampshire College addressing various topics on East African Hip Hop, including the historical context, the role of popular culture as a mode of expression and tool for public education and the possibilities of using the avenue to address various community needs.
More importantly his work utilises music as a tool for community empowerment, this work is captured in Prof. Mwenda Ntaragwis book titled East African Hiphop: Youth, culture and globolization.
In his tenure as an activist, he has engaged in a number of socially conscious projects, collaborating with institutions such as the Sarakasi Trust, French Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute and the British council.
More than being a poet and Hiphop artist, Muki is the co-founder of Words and Pictures (WAPI) – an acclaimed youth arts project in Nairobi which serves as a monthly platform for upcoming artists (for which he was nominated for the British Council’s International Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2006).
He convened a project called ‘Hip Hop Parliament’ in the midst of the post-election violence 2007/2008 in Kenya, as a means to engage Nairobi’s youth in positive dialogue across ethnic lines. In addition he is the founder of Maisha Yetu – a non-profit arts organization for youth, and he also worked at Ghetto Radio 89.5fm as an editor for their online journal www.ghettoradio.nl.
Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye is one of the most prolific women writers, not only in Kenya, but also in Africa. She has distinguished herself as a writer of novels, poetry, and children’s stories. She was born in Southampton, England, in 1928 and came to Kenya as a missionary bookseller in 1954. She married D.G.W. Macgoye in 1960 and subsequently integrated into her husband’s extended family and the Luo community. This feature is well manifested in her literary works which have been acknowledged all over the world. Coming to Birth won the Sinclair Prize for fiction in 1986, while Homing In won second place in the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in 1985.
Novelist, poet, and essayist Mukoma Wa Ngugi is the author of Nairobi Heat (Penguin, SA 2009), an anthology of poetry titled Hurling Words at Consciousness (AWP, 2006) and is a political columnist for the BBC’s Focus on Africa Magazine. He was short listed for the Caine Prize for African writing in 2009. He has also been short listed for the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing for his novel manuscript, The First and Second Books of Transition.
A former co-editor of Pambazuka News, his columns have appeared in the Guardian, International Herald Tribune, Chimurenga, Los Angeles Times, South African Labour Bulletin, and Business Daily Africa, and he has been a guest on Democracy Now, Al Jazeera and the BBC World Service. His essays have appeared in the World Literature Review, the Black Commentator, Progressive Magazine and Radical History Review. His short stories have been published in Wasafiri, Kenyon Review and St. Petersburg Review and poems in the New York Quarterly, Brick Magazine, Kwani?, Chimurenga and Tin House Magazine amongst other places.
Mukoma was born in 1971 in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in Kenya before returning to the United States for his undergraduate and graduate education. He is currently based in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the son of World-renowned African writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
Mufasa is a spoken word artist, actor and singer born and raised in Kenya. He popped into the spoken word scene after winning a spoken word slam competition. Since then Mufasa has been performing in all major poetry events in Kenya. Raised by a single mother, Mufasa is a passionate performer on stage and hides no emotions when he speaks about his life and disturbing issues in the society.
Nduta Kariuki is an artist working and studying in Nairobi, Kenya. She paints primarily, in a personal style that is derived from pop art, but dabbles extensively and has working knowledge of most art forms.
Nduta is currently a fourth year Fine Arts student at Kenyatta University. She is a freelance artist and has worked with Samsung and various high schools for the annual Music and Drama festivals. She enjoys writing, as it allows her to express her quirky sense of humor, and has performed at the Slam Africa, Word Up Live, St. Andrew’s Eve of Poetry and Wamathai events.
Her work has been shown in the following venues: The Michael Joseph Centre, Kenya Railways Museum Gallery, the National Museum, Paa ya Paa Gallery, The Kenyatta University’s Culture and Career weeks, International School of Kenya.
Njeri Wangare is a multi talented Kenyan poet and performer, IT specialist and arts blogger whose collection of poetry was recently published under the title Mines & Mind Fields; My Spoken Words. The 114 paged book contains over 40 poems that explore themes on Urban Blues, Love, Identity, Traditions, Cultural changes, Exploitation and Politics among others. Though most of the poems are in English, there are a few in Kiswahili, and Sheng
“She is one of the most respected female poets in Nairobi today”, The Sunday Nation writer Joseph Ngunjiri says of Njeri, “Njeri Wangari has a powerful voice, and she knows how to put it to good use. Whenever she takes to the podium to recite a poem, she has her enthusiastic audience applauding all the way.”
Njeri’s love for the arts began at an early age through her appreciation of African culture. This, she found to be well expressed in many of the books that she started reading while still young and they have shaped the person she has now become.
The year 2004 is when she penned down her first poem and 3 years later she made her first attempt in front of an audience to start performing her poems. She has now among some of the most talented Kenyan poets.
She has been running her blog, www.kenyanpoet.com since 2005,a project that she initially started in order to publishing her poetry online. It has since grown to incorporate other forms of art as well as host other poets. She has contributed immensely to the promotion of Kenyan Poetry not only on stage but also through the internet through her reviews on art performances and by encouraging up and coming poets to start blogs and eventually share their work through performance. She is currently part of the Global Voices Online-An online portal for citizen journalists, as a writer on African Arts.
Njeri has come to be known as the voice of reason and change in the Kenyan poetry circles due to the content and theme of her poems which range from culture, religion, human rights, technology and everyday challenges in the Kenyan society.
She performs regularly at various poetry spots in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi as well as in institutions and companies where she is invited from time to time.
Njeri is currently working on her 2nd poetry collection.
Drawing from her musical background and her work as an actress, Ngwatilo Mawiyoo is acclaimed as “a priest of the art of performed poetry.” She has performed in venues in East Africa, Europe and North America, recently performing at the 2009 13th Stockholm Poetry Festival.
An undisputed young master of the written word, Ngwatilo’s first collection of poems Blue Mothertongue (2010) is “crafted with beautiful pace and intelligence,” “a worthy testament of her times.”
Her poems may also be found in literary journals around the world including Kwani? published by The Kwani Trust and The Literary Review published by Farleigh & Dickinson University.”
Odongo Kennedy Leakey, known in the entertainment industry as Kennet B, started writing spoken word poetry 14 years ago. He began performing actively in early 2009 after winning the Slam Africa Poetry Championship founded by Imani Womera of Imani Inc. Prior to this, he had recorded his first spoken word poetry single Reality Absurdity, the video for which is forthcoming. Driven by the global concern about HIV and AIDS, his lyrics are majorly pegged on the social issues that are responsible for the spread of the virus.
He has four albums on the table; Coming of Age, a seven track pure spoken word poetry album , Success a 15 track musical-poetry album, Cheka na Kennet, and Refugee.
Currently Kennet is working on a short stories compilation The Sheng Anthology vol 1. This is a collection of conflict-laden social narratives aimed at impacting the repeated emphatic distress felt when a favorite character is seen in imminent danger. This often enhances the enjoyment of the stories and one sees the resolution of the threat (HIV&AIDS) as the narratives unfold.
Lolani Kalu is a veteran Kenyan journalists, multi-linguist, musician, actor and comedian and Swahili poet. As a Journalist he has had a rare opportunity of interacting with Kenya’s diverse and rich arts and culture.
Lolani is the founder of Safari47.org, which was established as a way to identify, nurture and develop raw talent identified in 47 counties of Kenya.
Growing in the towns of Mombasa, Nakuru and Nairobi City, Jemedari is a spoken word poet and Hip Hop artiste. Having involved himself in poetry from school level competitions, his style is a gritty mix of English and coastal Swahili. His focus on topics is mainly politics and social justice, with the occasional dabbling in matters of the heart.
Jacob Oketch is a poet and a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has been performing and writing poetry for almost a decade. At the moment,he is preparing to publish his first collection of poetry. He is also in the process of releasing a poetry CD that features other two poets from the East Africa region.
Oketch is a postgraduate student in journalism at the University of Nairobi. He has worked with a number of foreign and local cultural institutions to promote and publicise poetry including Goethe institute Nairobi, Italian institute of Culture Nairobi, and Kwani Trust. He has featured as a backup vocalist in a Kenyan musician’s CD besides also previously featuring in an acapella group. In addition, he has also acted in plays staged by theatre groups in Kenya, most notably the University of Nairobi free travelling theatre. He has written articles for various magazines published in Nairobi.
Grandmaster Masese is a Kenyan poet, actor, and writer as well as a Fahamu Pan African Fellow on Social Justice. He is also an Obokano player – a traditional harp from the Gusii community in western Kenya. Masese has performed in festivals across Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, India, The UK and Tanzania. He has been featured in numerous Kenyan online magazines. He has a band called Ritongo Afrika and is also a member of the Mstari wa Nne poetry group and Al Hazira FM comedians. He currently has three students who he teaches to play the Obokano – two young girls and the renowned poet and visual artist Mama Charlotte Hill O’neal.
Evans Nganga is a Kenyan contemporary artist, dancer, poet, yoga instructor and beadwork craftsman who concentrates on performing arts based on African traditions and modern art. The past few years have included months of varied art projects, workshops and performances with both local and international artists, choreographers and dancers and travel for research and performances.
He has received his artistic academic training through open forums, seminars and self study, while practical training included dance workshops and apprenticeship receiving instructions in choreography and electronic media at the tertiary level. Evans has choreographed a Solo Dance Piece titled the poem performed at Encounters from Africa festival, the annual festival of solos and duests at Goethe Institute in Nairobi and Dance Week in Kampala, Uganda.
Born in Nairobi, KENYA, in the late 1980s, Eric begun writing at 16 after being expelled from school. His first piece, A Letter To The Grave, was dedicated to his five-month-old sister who had died suddenly. He has not stopped writing and reciting his work ever since, he believes poetry is his destiny.
The ever-resilient Checkmate Mido is a human beatbox, poet, musician and actor. He is known for his thought provoking poems and incorporating beatboxing into his performances.
In December 2010, at the annual Kenya Music Week, held at the Sarit Centre, he co-released his 6 track EP called Broken City with Kennah as his first foray into recording an album, which apart from the two, features various artists such as world renowned percussionist Tenpar Tella.
Broken City was again relaunched at the secrets lounge on the 3rd of March 2011. http://nairobinow.wordpress.com/concertalbum-launch-kennah-checkmate-live-unplugged-mar-3-2011-secrets-lounge/
Apart from writing his own music and poetry, he had a hugely successful debut as an actor appearing in the popular play Mayors’ Diary performed by Ethnic Productions in collaboration with Adcents media (now Kilele Productions), in which he starred as the title character the Mayor. He also played a role in the thriller Death & The Estate (as Spencer-The Family Lawyer) staged at the Kenya National Theatre from 9th-11th December 2011.
He featured in the 2012 edition of The Theatre Company’s Fire By Ten series playing multiple roles.
Having featured in festivals such as Wapi (words and pictures) in 2011 and Kinanda Arts Festival he has performed at various other poetry nights such as Slam Africa, Kwani and Wamathai.
Hellen “Poeticbee” is proudly Kenyan. She is a student pursing fashion design,she is also a performing spoken word artist,a recording musician, and 46th Slam Africa queen. She was born into a creative family where her life quickly started revolving around pen, paper, words and melodies.
Anne Moraa is first and foremost a writer. A powerful spoken word artist, she has won several competions (Slam Africa, Kwani Open Mic) and has performed pieces at major festivals (Kwani Litfest, StoryMoja Hay Festival).
Her strong feminist perspective and willingness to challenge norms led to commissioned performances on gender and sexuality, including the 2013 “Festivale CulturElles” at Alliance Francaise. A law graduate, she writes fiction prose as well as scripts, social commentary and basically anything she can get her hands on.
Azziz is a poet, music lover, blogger, computer scientist, accountant and entrepreneur. His life purpose is to make the world a better place. He is passionate about inspiring others and mentors the youth in attempt to make them better individuals. In his spare time he is a football fanatic, rugby player and wanna-be singer.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1981 and raised in Nairobi, Kenya from the age of 11, Imani has worked as a multidisciplinary artist since 2000. As a performer, teacher, radio presenter, author, producer, recording artist, and co-founder of the Slam Africa Movement, Imani has played an integral role in the spread of the Spoken Word art form in East Africa. She is the author and producer of two poetry books and Spoken Word audio albums, Morning Rain (2006), and Pearls (2009).
Imani has delivered multiple performances and workshops at festivals, theaters, schools, and universities throughout the world. Blessed with the ability to move diverse audiences, she has worked closely with the United Nations Habitat for Humanity, as well as with Africa’s leading underground Hip-Hop art’s platform, WAPI. Over the past 10 years, she has had extensive experience working with youth as a mentor and poetry teacher both in and beyond school systems, and has written, directed, and produced a number of successful youth poetry theater performances including Poetic Identity (2004), Morning Rain (2006), Internal Imani (2007), and Free Verse (2010).
Imani has lit up stages as a featured artist in cities across the globe such as Minneapolis, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Bangkok, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Salvador da Bahia, and New York City; including the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café where she held the stage as a featured poet in 2006. In addition, she has worked as a radio presenter at one of Nairobi’s top radio station’s, Capital FM, for over three years, producing and presenting the World Groove Show.
Prof.Kithaka wa Mberia was born in 1955 in Tharaka in the Eastern Province of Kenya. He attended primary school in Tharaka before joining Chuka High School and then Alliance High School. In 1976, he enrolled at the University of Nairobi and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1979. He later obtained an M.A. and PhD from the same university.
Since 1982 Prof. Kithaka wa Mberia has been teaching and doing research in the Depertment of Linguistics and Languages, University of Nairobi. He has also taught in the United States of America as a Fullbright Scholar-in-Residence at Virginia State University, Petersburg. Moreover, over the years, he has taught students from several foreign universities and university colleges during their semesters in Kenya. He has also served as an External Examinor to both local and foreign universities. Besides publishing papers in academic journals, Prof. Kithaka wa Mberia has to his credit numerous books of poetry and drama. These include Kifo Kisimani, Mchezo wa Karata, Natala, Bara Jingine, Maua Kwenye Jua la Asubuhi, Redio na Mwezi, Msimu wa Tisa and Zimwi la Theluji. Several of these books have been translated and published in English.
Phyllis Muthoni has contributed poems to Kwani? and the Black Arts Quarterly magazine (Stanford University). She has been writing poetry ‘seriously’ since 2003. Her investment in time and thought shines through her recent collection, Lilac Uprising , which has been likened to ‘a cool drink of water: clear, spare, fresh and vital’ (Doreen Baingana, author, Tropical Fish). Lilac Uprising, the title poem, is part of a four-piece poem that utilizes the life stages of a Jacaranda tree to highlight how she deals with the loss of her grandmother. Phyllis works part-time as a poetry editor.
‘Phyllis Muthoni has written and courageously self-published a book that redefines how Kenya can be viewed…It is a thrilling read, a collection of fantastic poems that converts what we see from the corner of our eye into something kaleidoscopic…’
Prof. Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed Nabhany, was born 27 November 1927 in Mombasa Kenya. He is affectionately known as the father of Swahili poetry.
A list of researchers Nabhany has assisted:
1. John W.T. Allen 1965 who was collecting Swahili manuscript, poetry, songs, and lullabies.
2. Prof. Ann Beirsteke 1983 who was researching Mwana Kupona and learning Swahili poetry.
3. Prof. Henebush 1989 who was learning Swahili poetry composed by Nabhany.
4. Prof.Ibrahim Noor Shariff 1984.
5. Prof. Chach n Chacha 1984 who was researching Swahili Poetry.
6. Dr. Marjorie Ann Franken 1986 who was researching, Ngoma, Swahili Poetry.
7. Prof. Rocha Chimera 1984 – Istilani.
8. Prof. Deborah P. Amory 1985 – Kanga In Swahili Society.
9. Prof. Kingei – On Swahili Twarab 1989.
Nabhany’s Contribution on Islamic Swahili Arab Scripts:
1967 – Helped in the collection and recording of Swahili and Arabic Manuscripts by J.W.T. Allen for University of Dar-Es-Salaam.
1984-1987 Worked with Prof. Dammann in Hamburg University, Germany in translating Swahili Arabic manuscripts to Roman scripts.
1993 – Worked on Islamic manuscripts with Dr.David Sperling Lamu, Pate, Siyu in Kenya in the same year travelled to Comores Island. Project sponsored by Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation through our director in London, Dr. Shariff.
2004 – A team of Oman Television led by Mr.Mohamed Bin Ali Marjiby interviewed him on the history of the first Omani who came to Pate in Lamu Kenya, Suleiman bin Suleiman bin Mudhafar Nabhany in the 12th Century and from Oman Jabal-Ahdhar at Al-Makheri.
Raya Wambui started writing poetry consistently thirteen years ago. She began performing in July 2011 competing in the Carnivore Star Search of that year. She began her blog in March 2012, where she has been sharing her poetry and some other writing since then (rayawambui.wordpress.com). Her poetry tends to fall under revolutionary poetry, but is not exclusively in that genre.
Since she began performing, she has performed at the following events:
* Carnivore Star Search of 2011- Auditions, Semi Finals and Finals
* Wamathai Spoken Word- Severally since 2011
* Slam Africa- Performed severally, competed five times: I am the 39th Slam Queen
* Kwani Open Mic- performed three times, was the April 2013 featured poet
* Word Up Live- Severally
* Panari Ice Skating Festival
* Chords For Cords
* Streams, Where Haven Art
* Creatives Garage Portfolio Review
* Teto Tetuma and the Purple Warriors Band, Live at Kitengela
* Global Voices Summit 2012
* The BOGOF
* Sitawa Ignited
* GBC show: JCs love letter
* Sentimental Spot (Arts Talk Show)
* Nairobi University Chiromo Campus Cultural Day
* Nairobi University Main Campus, Class presentation
Rachael Kainyu Njeri is a Kenyan poet who began writing, as most do, in high school to help her through adolescence. With time it became more than just venting and now she has a blog where she posts her work. She is quite young in the performance scene but has performed with the Sanaa Fusion. Her work has been featured on a couple of sites including Wamathai.com and B-Gina Reviews.
Stephen Derwent Partington is a teacher in Kenya, and a poet. He lives and works just outside Machakos and is a member of Concerned Kenyan Writers. His collection of poems, SMS & Face to Face, was published by Phoenix to critical acclaim in East Africa.
In addition to having his poetry widely published in UK and African journals he writes academic articles on regional literature for leading post-colonial journals and East African regional media. Previously he was poetry editor of the first three editions of Kwani East Africa’s ‘only literary journal’.
Sitawa Namwalie is a poet, writer and performer interested in how Africans are defining themselves in today’s world. In writing she finds her expression. In 2008 her first dramatised poetry show by the name Cut Off My Tongue was successfully performed in different venues in Nairobi. In 2009, her first book of poetry, Cut Off My Tongue was published. Later the same year, the show was performed at the prestigious Hay Festival in the UK. And in 2012 it was performed in Uganda. She was nominated for the Freedom to Create Prize in 2010 for the courage and positive social influence of her poetry.
In 2011, her second show of dramatised poetry called Homecoming was performed in Nairobi to rave reviews. In April 2012 Cut off my Tongue was selected by TED Talks on a global search for the new and undiscovered as a performance worth spreading.
Sitawa has worked in the development sector for many years with NGOs and with UNDP, USAID and IUCN. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Zoology from the University of Nairobi and a Master of Arts degree in Environment, Society and Technology from Clark University in Massachusetts, USA. She works as a development consultant in the areas of environment, gender and governance.
Sitawa has achieved excellence in many areas of life, including representing Kenya in tennis and hockey in her youth. She is a mother of three gorgeous children and is married to a man of rare generosity.
Kenyan poet SHAILJA PATEL was trained as a political economist, accountant and yoga teacher. She honed her poetic skills in performances that have received standing ovations on four continents.
Her US publishing debut, Migritude, based on her acclaimed one-woman show, went to #1 on Amazon’s bestsellers in Asian Poetry, and was a Seattle Times bestseller – extremely rare for a poetry collection.
Patel has been African Guest Writer at Sweden’s Nordic Africa Institute and poet-in-residence at the Tallberg Forum, Sweden’s alternative to Davos. She has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR and Al-Jazeera. Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Honours include a Sundance Theatre Fellowship, a Creation Fund Award from the National Performance Network, the Fanny-Ann Eddy Poetry Award from IRN-Africa, the Voices of Our NationsPoetry Award, a Lambda Slam Championship, and the Outwrite Poetry Prize.
Patel is a founding member of Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice, a civil society coalition which works for an equitable democracy in Kenya. In 2011, the African Women’s Development Fund named her one of Fifty Inspirational African Feminists for the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, ELLE India Magazine selected her as one of its 25 New Guard Influencers, and Poetry Africa honored her as Letters To Dennis Poet, continuing the legacy of renowned poet-activist Dennis Brutus.
Samo is a poet based in Nairobi Kenya. He frequents the Slam Africa competition held in Nairobi. He is publicly known as “rabid dog in a suit” because he is one who is not big on photos and bios.