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Art

New Samburu museum opens at International School of Kenya

Rhodia Mann with friends during the launch of her Museum of Samburu Culture at the ISK in Nairobi. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG
Rhodia Mann with friends during the launch of her Museum of Samburu Culture at the ISK in Nairobi. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG 

Apart from Aroji Theatre Academy’s staging of Dr Fred Mbogo’s thriller, Thieves as Humans, this weekend at the Kenya Cultural Centre Annex, most thespians and storytellers are in the thick of rehearsals, getting set for shows opening in the coming days.

That’s not to say we haven’t seen drama this past week. On Wednesday, at the International School of Kenya (ISK), a brand new museum was launched inside the school’s spacious library.

In opening the Rhodia Mann Museum of Samburu Culture, the school has not only opened up the opportunity for its students to learn about many facets of the Samburu people. It has also given Ms Mann the chance to share her lifetime involvement with the people of northern Kenya.

Speaking at the launch, Ms Mann told a library-full of friends how she’d been born and brought up in Kenya, and how she’d travelled all around Samburu-land with her father by the time she was just nine. By age 16, she was already dreaming about how she was destined to lead a life intertwined with the Samburu.

And now, after many years of travelling up north and getting to know the Samburu people, their cultural practices and even their cosmology, she sees the museum as something like “a dream come true”.

Some of the knowledge she’s garnered over the years is recorded in books she’s written such as Talk to the Stars: the Samburu of Northern Kenya, A Woman of Two Worlds: How (not) to Become an Anthropologist and Ice Cream in Sololo: Journey to the Heart of Life as well as in the film Butterfly People, which she will screen later this year.

But opening the well-captioned Museum has meant Rhodia has also been able to share the various artefacts and insights collected over the years. Having been adopted by one Samburu mama, she was able to penetrate the more metaphysical dimensions of the culture, which are recorded well in Talk to the Stars. Her work has even earned her recognition from the Royal Geographical Society in the UK.

The new museum came into being with support from the Rotary Club of Muthaiga and the Interact Club of ISK. It has become a permanent display at ISK.

Meanwhile, there will be a stream of new productions being staged starting this weekend. Thieves as Humans will premiere at KCC Annex, starring Bilal Mwaura and Jack Gitonga this Saturday and Sunday. It’s a gritty thriller that Mbogo has wanted to see produced for quite some time.

Then next Tuesday MAy 29, the Sigana International Storytelling Festival opens at the Buru Buru branch of the Kenya National Library Service at 10am. This year’s festival will feature master storytellers from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as well as from South Africa and India. They are being hosted by the Sigana Storytellers who are part of the Zamaleo Act Team, headed by the Team’s founder, Aghan Odero.

Catering first and foremost to children from Kenyan schools, the storytelling will take place all over the country between May 29-June 9. After starting off in Nairobi, all the performers will tell their stories, first in Kajiado, then in Karen Village, Alliance Girls School, Dream Corner at Uhuru Gardens, Tala, Kisii and ending up in Siaya.

Then this weekend, from Friday night, June 1 through Saturday, the Legacy Arts Film Lab will present the new musical scripted by Jean Akinyi called Contract Love at Kenya National Theatre.

Directed by Dr Zippy Okoth, the show is billed as an “African love fantasy” that fuses drama, music and dance. The cast includes Suki Wanza, Papi Odeq, Makena Sue and Vitalis Wesh.

That same weekend, starting Thursday through Sunday, Heartstrings Kenya will put up the comedy Tit for Tat at Alliance Francaise. The same play was staged just last year. In fact, it might have been the last production Festival of Creative Arts did before they went silent and FCA actors scattered all over town, quite a few joining Mbeki Mwalimu’s Back to Basics.

The other production opening next weekend at Braeburn Theatre will be a two-hander entitled Constellations by Nick Payne. It’s starring Philip Coulson and Silvia Cassini who is fresh from producing and directing A Man Like You less than a month ago.

Constellations is a quirky love story that unfolds between a beekeeper and an academic. It’s one that leads into parallel universes and other uncharted territories It makes its Kenyan debut a week from tonight.

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