• How can you describe yourself in a summarized manner?
I find it hard to say what I am still trying to figure out. I hug trees and watch people. I use commas way too often. My nature is evolving as I type, but for the longest time I’ve worn my heart on my elbow and fought to coax it down my sleeve. I believe in a true, merciful and loving God.
• When did you pen your first independent piece (poem or story – apart from school work)?
2011 (in school) but it wasn’t ‘school work’ per se. My then English teacher invited a group of Spoken Word artists to school and they performed for us in the library. I remember thinking, I’m not quite sure what that is but I love it and I want more of it! I really wish I could remember their names! They challenged us, there and then, to write something, anything, and I wrote the first 10 lines of ‘Colour’. That evening, I went home to binge watch all things Spoken Word on YouTube and I found ‘Hands’ by Sarah Kay, who I fell in love with, and after watching it at least 10 times, finished ‘Colour’.
• What inspires your writing?
Life, my experiences, other people’s experiences, their stories, a quote, a song, a picture – the easier question would be ‘What doesn’t?’. I think, the more I grow as an artist and an individual, the more magic and inspiration I find in all things.
• Apart from writing what else do you do? (Hehe we know how that question feels like)
I live, I love, I laugh, I explore. I’m still coming into my own and trying to find myself in the grand scheme of things. But, for now, I perform – as an actor and a poet, and I’m still trying to grow as a writer (I haven’t come to terms with that title yet).
• Why don’t you use a stage name?
No name calls me like my name calls me, and when I’m performing poetry, me is all I am.
• What do you think is man’s greatest invention?
Any and all musical instruments.
• Who would you term as a Kenyan hero? Why?
My mom, because she is everything.
Wangari Maathai. Because she stood so firm and spoke out so loud in the fight for a thing we so often derogate, disrespect, and undervalue. Because she boldly fought for nature in the face of ridicule and misogyny crafted to ensure her downfall. Because i don’t see how she would be anything but a hero.
The night guards, the mama mboga, the matatu driver(reckless as he might be, he gets me home), because of their unwavering resilience.
I could go on and on, because everyone’s a hero in some way, you just need to look close enough to see why.
• If the world was to end tomorrow, what would you do till then?
I’d say the love I’ve been too scared to, speak the truth tomorrow normally wouldn’t let me, and drink some wine under a tree somewhere.
• What’s your earliest memory?
A drive to school when I was maybe 3 or 4. It was my mum, my Cucu and I in the car. We had pancakes for breakfast, I know because the butterflies in my stomach decided they didn’t like them when we got to the school gate. I was nervous about school, I don’t know why because I loved it, but that’s my earliest memory.
Ask me the name of my school, it’s so much fun to say!
‘What was the name of your school?’
Shah Lalji Nagpar Academy.
• If you were a cartoon character, which one would it be?
I thought about doing one of those Facebook quizzes to answer this one, because I honestly don’t know. Do they still exist?
• Three words to describe your brain?
Vast, voracious, and vivid.
• What is that song that never gets boring to your ears?
Just one? I can’t choose!
The song of the birds outside my window in the morning.
• What is the most unforgettable thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
They’re so many exciting, disappointing, and wonderful moments! I think for me, it’s always been the moment when I’m standing up there, all by my lonesome, heart in my throat, and there is pin drop silence. In that moment, when I realise I have captured the rooms attention, that’s the most unforgettable thing!
• What is that thing you did as a kid you wish you still would?
Played games! Ran around and made sand castles, played bano (when the boys would let me), swung on monkey bars, lived with every inch of me like tomorrow had energy of it’s own to generate, today’s was mine and I was going to use it all!
• What do you think of the Kenyan creative and artistic industry?
I only have a couple of years of vested interest and experience to go on, but I think it is wanting, definitely.
There is a lot that’s wrong with the way many of us, Kenyans, approach creative endeavours. Most of that is the product of our slowly diminishing, but continued need to achieve some convoluted sense of western ideals. Ideals about the way the people on our screens, stages and various other mediums should look and sound.
I also think it is strong, vibrant, and ever-growing. There is so much talent oozing from the pores of closeted creatives who, unfortunately, aren’t receiving support or encouragement for their passion. Mentorship is such an important aspect of this industry, and I think it’s wonderful and commendable that some artists have taken it upon themselves to do so.
Side note: shame on creatives who exploit other creatives, especially young ones, like they don’t know what it’s like! Shame on you again! Have some humanity.
• Who’s that character you wish you’d pull out of the screen/book and elope with?
For the adventure that he would, no doubt, arrive with strapped to his belt – Captain Jack Sparrow (I’m a hypocrite, I know).
• Any random question you’d like to ask the world?
Will it answer?
Her twitter: @Laura_Ekumbo
Her blog: Relevant Ranting