“It’s not fair. It’s not fair.” George Mungai, Artistic Director of the Phoenix Players of Kenya stated when I told him I was leaving today. He’s been the supervisor of my independent study project, and an amazing mentor and friend. The Phoenix Players is the only reparatory theater in Kenya. Being there for the past month has been the highlight of my semester. For me the only sacred place that comes close to church is this. Being in a theater and with theater minded people. I’ve had the time of my life writing props lists, reading and critiquing plays, watching and critiquing plays, running warm ups, documenting warm up techniques, learning new ones, learning what and how Phoenix works and just talking and playing around with the great entertainment faces of Kenya. I’ve fallen in Love. Who could ask for more?
What I would ask for is more- More time here. I don’t want to leave. Something clicked for me here. This is where I belong- at least for part of my life. If Mama didn’t need me, I would have found the money and paid to stay for another month, or two weeks at least. But nothing comes before Mama. Being here has truly helped my craft and my commitment to it. I’ve been exposed to amazing people and institutions with a wealth of valuable information not just for me, but for the world. I mean think about it- I’ve worked with and have established relationships with the largest Black Reparatory Theatre Company in the US and the only (and by default black) Reparatory Theater Company of Kenya! I’ve never doubted God’s favor on my life and this is yet another example of it. They welcomed me with open arms and brought me into their hearts. And I ate up every bit of it!
I’ve been to Karen, Meru, Tanzania, Amboseli, Mombasa, Nairobi and Nyeri. I’ve seen ‘Witchdoctors’, hunter and gatherers, pastoralists, professors, tour guides, performers, prostitutes, beggars, babies, hawkers, businessmen, nuns, members of parliament, students, actors, musicians, celebrities, mothers and fathers. And I’ve discovered something in each one. I’ve seen slums and mansions, slept in resorts and on dirt. I’ve laughed till I cried and cried because there was nothing to laugh about. I’ve prayed with fervor and let other people pray for me. I’ve spent more money than I planned but consider it all an investment. I’ve eaten chicken and greens constantly and plan on adding chapatti and chai to my regular diet. I’ve eaten goat and gotten diarrhea almost every time. I’ve learned Kenyan childhood games from successful actors at the Phoenix and taught my childhood games to children afflicted with AIDS. I’ve been starred at constantly because people can’t understand why this Kenyan is talking with such a funny accent. I’ve learned enough Kenyan vocal expressions to last me until I return. I’ve whined to my Kenyan mothers and have had ice cream eating and gossip sessions with my Kenyan sisters. I’ve broken hearts and answered prayers.
My life is the culmination of answered prayers. As my mother says I fly on borrowed wings. I’m living one day to the next just to do God’s will and be a blessing to other people. I believe my Life is and will continue to be a testament to God’s greatness. Why should I be the first of my kin to do something like this? Lord knows I haven’t been good enough to deserve it. But I work hard to make the most out of it. So that my kin and everyone I’m connected to benefits from it. Blessings through osmosis. I want to be the vessel for someone else’s blessing. I may be the first of us to do something like this but as God as my witness I won’t be the last.
Ninakuacha na hii
Nitarudi, bila shaka
Check the bottom left pic, that's me in the society section of one of Kenya's most read papers