We shall find all precious substance,
We shall fill our houses with spoil–Proverbs of Solomon.
Perhaps the above Proverbs explains my own expectations for the June 2016 edition of the Goethe Institut facilitated event ‘Reading In Unusual Spaces’. But just like anything unusual, you just have to prepare for anything.
Curated by writer Tony Mochama aka Smitta Smitten of The Standard Media, writers and other literature enthusiasts met at the Goethe Institut on Satuarday morning 10 a.m. on June 11 2016.
We then walked over to Jevanjee Gardens where we were divided into groups of three. In these groups, we approached random people at Jevanjee inorder to share our love for literature. Since Jevanjee is synonymous with preachers, the organisers felt that some Proverbs of Solomon would be appropriate. I think we could have used other forms of literature too.
The first duo we approached said they were actually in a meeting so we moved on to another guy who was seated solo under a tree. He said his (Kibera) hood name was Wailer and boy! was he a sport. He even read some of the Proverbs out loud for us and explained their applications in life today. Wailer pointed out that he too was a reader. He also had friends who wrote but do not publish since they do not know where to go. He was at Jevanjee because he was waiting for his colleague so they could go for a children’s face-painting job just across the road.
Thereafter, we shared experiences, observations and lessons and one of the craziest ones I remember was from Tony’s group. They had found two men carrying suitcases and looking confused. Upon further enquiry, they discovered that these men were just about to be conned. They had been promised jobs in Kakuma, Northern Kenya in exchange for Kshs. 3,000. They did not doubt the job advert because ‘it was in the newspaper’. The person they were dealing with was still unreachable but they had been waiting there for him for a while already-ready to start their jobs in Kakuma immediately.
Some of the people we found at Jevanjee have smartphones too but none of them was reading as they waited, passed time in readiness for something else or smoked cigarettes. Why not read meanwhile?
Our next stop was the Imax Theatre where we read some poetry printed out by the organiser. ‘Priest accused of not wearing a condom’ by Paul Durcan was quite a discussion starter.
From here, we proceeded to Sabina Joy, a den where sex workers are available around the clock. Along the way, PEN-Kenya current president Khainga O’okwemba tried to derail us into International Life House for what he called an impromptu reading at some airline office. But Tony intervened before this happened.
On reaching the much-anticipated Sabina Joy, we were obviously so many that the bouncer became suspicious> She called the manager who intervened and we were finally let in.
But we were informed that they wouldn’t be switching-off the music since at 12 noon, they were already house-full. The camera people who had been following us were also not allowed in for obvious reasons. As soon as we were settled into one corner of the dimly-lit club, some guy grabbed one of the writer’s phones accusing him of taking photos. But Tony’s prescence was all it took for him to return it.
Over a drink, we continued to read in groups (inspite of the drama and the noise). To suit this special occasion, Potentash read an excerpt from her story ‘Confessions of a high class call girl’. Though I hadn’t come prepared to perform, I was asked to perform ‘my hottest poem’ http://bit.ly/1OkLGyK which I did, really having to raise my voice. This was quite a great voice exercise as one of the attendees cared to point out.
A walk towards the ladies washrooms and wow! The women lined up in wait was unexpected. They were all up and ready for business before lunchtime. I was informed that during the ‘washroom break’, I had missed some drama; a woman had gotten into a fight with a guy –even tearing up his shirt before security could intervene.
I have always been an avid reader, reading everywhere and anywhere I can so I did not have to be converted. I was happy that what we did generated the desired curiousity, which was part of the plan. I also met some really wonderful inspiring literature-loving men and women and had some incredible moments of inspiration and experiences for sure. Not what I had pictured/expected, but definitely worth my time.
The next Reading in Unusual Spaces will be held in Ole Polos.