Eti! East Africa Speaks!

Eti! East Africa Speaks! : A THEATRE EXCHANGE  In July 2008, a group of eleven theatre artists from East Africa (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda) will come to Dartmouth College and New York City for a three and a half week residency.  The primary aims of the residency include :

·        building connections between the U.S. and East Africa by exposing East African work to U.S. audiences and by providing the East African artists with an opportunity to network and work with top-notch U.S. theatre practitioners

·        to provide the African artists with the time and space to interact and create across East African national boundaries and to foster a growing regional artistic identity

·        to redress a pervasive lack of knowledge in the U.S. about the cultures of East Africa by providing these artists with a forum to speak about the challenges and capacities of modern African identity through the medium of the performing arts. Several of the artists (Mumbi Kaigwa, Okello Kelo Sam, George Seremba, and members of Parapanda Theatre Arts) are bringing specific plays or ensemble pieces to be workshopped and presented in showcase performances at Dartmouth and the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center CUNY in NYC.  (See below for more information on these pieces.)  Other artists will be participating as workshop leaders and facilitators and will potentially join in the creation of a collective piece generated during the workshop.   The first two weeks of the residency (June 30 to July 14) will occur at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH.  The purpose of these two weeks are: 1) to allow the artists to develop and refine the works-in-progress and 2) to facilitate artistic exchanges and dialogue among and between the artists and Dartmouth theatre students through dance and theatre workshops, play readings, and improvisations.  These two weeks will culminate in a showcase performance for the Dartmouth and regional community on July 12 and 13.   After Dartmouth, the artists will continue the developmental residency in New York City with the support and assistance of 651 ARTS/Africa Exchange.  The ten days will culminate in a series of work-in-progress presentations of their work at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center CUNY, scheduled for July 21 and 22. The New York segment will offer opportunities to network with potential artistic collaborators, producers and presenters as well as to attend shows.  By the end of the residency, our hope is that the East African artists will have developed concrete and useful relationships that can be translated into practical opportunities to build further connections between the U.S. and East Africa. This project is being made possible through the generous support of the Ford Foundation, Dartmouth College, 651 ARTS/Africa Exchange, and the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at the CUNY Graduate Center.      THE PERFORMANCES 

Come Good Rain.  A play written and performed by George Seremba that consists of an autobiographical account of Seremba's terrifying experiences in 1970s Uganda.   In a solo performance that integrates Ugandan song, folklore, and live percussion, he takes the audience on his journey from bare survival to triumph over the oppressive political regimes of Milton Obote and Idi Amin.


Forged in Fire.  A collaborative performance piece by Okello Kelo Sam, Robert Ajwang’ and Laura Edmondson that integrates dance, music, and testimony to explore Okello’s wrenching experiences of the civil war in northern Uganda.  Performed by Okello and Ajwang’.


They Call Me Wanjikũ. A solo piece by Mumbi Kaigwa with music by Andrea Kalima Zawose that explores the complexites of what it means to be a woman in Kenya today.  Kaigwa focuses on the struggle to reclaim and rearticulate our names and our identities.  

 Mtumishi wa Umma/Public Servant.  This piece draws upon Parapanda’s unique style of Swahili-language ensemble theatre that fuses improvisation, dance, music, and drama.  It features poet/performer Mrisho Mpoto in a piece exploring contemporary corruption in medical practice.  THE ARTISTS 

Robert O. Ajwang’ is a musician, dancer, and choreographer from northern Tanzania. He received his early dance education through performing in local ceremonies and rituals and went on to study East African music and dance at the College of Arts in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Since moving to the U.S. in 1999, he has performed and taught workshops in Georgia, Florida, California, Vermont, and New Hampshire. He has also taught as a guest lecturer at Makerere University in Uganda, and his choreographed version of Malivata was performed at the National Theatre of Uganda in 2004.  He current
ly teaches East African dance at Dartmouth College.


Deborah Asiimwe is an up-and-coming playwright and performer from Uganda. Her recent plays include Appointment with gOD, which was read at California Institute of the Arts in 2007, and Cooking Oil, a production of which is scheduled for 2008 at California Institute of the Arts. Lagoma is Searching, You are that Man, and My Secret all received productions at the Uganda National Cultural Centre/National Theatre. In 2006, she won the award of the overall best student at Makerere University in Uganda where she pursued her Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama. She has participated in many national and international artists’ gatherings, including a Women Playwrights International Conference (WPI) in the Phillipines, where she was appointed a member of WPI advisory committee, the 2003 Sundance Theatre Lab as an international observer, and the Sourcework workshop, held at Towson University (USA) and Warsaw Theatre Academy (Poland) in 2002. Asiimwe is an award winner of a merit scholarship in Writing For Performance at the California Institute of the Arts where she is currently pursuing her Master in Fine Arts (MFA) degree.


Hope Azeda is a leading figure in contemporary Rwandan theatre. She is the director and choreographer of Mashirika Creative and Performing Arts, one of the major theatre companies in Rwanda.  Under her direction, the group collaboratively created Rwanda My Hope, which was performed in Kigali at the 10th anniversary commemoration of the genocide, and also at the G8 World Summit in Edinburgh in 2005.  The play also toured in the UK in 2006.  She has also been an artist-in-residence at the Institute for the Arts and Civic Dialogue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to her theatre work, she served as a casting director for the films Sometimes in April, Shake Hands with the Devil, and Shooting Dogs.

 Mumbi Kaigwa is an actor, producer, and writer, as well as manager of the day-to-day affairs of The Theatre Company in Nairobi, Kenya.  In March 2003, Mumbi produced and directed Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues as part of the V-Day Worldwide Campaign in Nairobi. The event raised close to a million Kenyan shillings for organisations working to end violence against women and girls in Kenya. In 2005, Mumbi was invited by the Wereld Muziek Theatre Festival to create a new work for their bi-annual festival. The show, KigeziNdoto, toured Holland, Belgium and Italy in 2006 and brought together thirteen performers in a dance, music, and narrative piece celebrating African heroes and providing an African perspective on Kenyan history.  In 2003 Mumbi was awarded Woman of the Year for Music and the Arts by Eve Magazine, and she was President of Women Playwrights International from 2003-2005.    

Mgunga  Mwa Mnyenyelwa co-founded Parapanda Theatre Arts, one of Tanzania’s leading theatre companies, while he was a theatre student at the University of Dar es Salaam.  Under his leadership, Parapanda has become known for its fusion of Swahili storytelling, poetry, music, and dance.  He has toured with the group throughout East Africa, Mozambique, and South Africa.


Mrisho Mpoto is one of Tanzania’s most promising poets. He is also an actor, theatre director, and storyteller. Mrisho Mpoto resides in Dar es Salaam, where he spent many years working with Parapanda Theatre Lab. He has performed widely at festivals throughout Africa, Europe and East Asia.  He is a founding member of the new company, BONGO DSM (Dar es Salaam.) 

 Charles Mulekwa is one of Uganda’s most successful playwrights. In 1998/99, the British Council and the Peggy Ramsay Foundation granted him a joint scholarship for an M.A. in Playwriting at Birmingham University, UK, where he wrote the play A Time of Fire.  The play received its premiere at the Birmingham Rep in 1999. In 2003 he earned a Ford Foundation International Fellowship and joined Brown University, Providence, RI where he is a Ph.D. candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies. In 2005 he served as the Ugandan Consultant to the Director for the film The Last King of Scotland. Currently he is working on his dissertation, Performing the Legacy of War in Uganda. Eva David Nyambe, an actor and storyteller, is a key member of Parapanda Theatre Arts in Tanzania. She was one of four Parapanda members featured in collaboration with S.O.P (Sounds of Progress) in Scotland.  Most recently, she performed in “Bongo Mtoni,” which was performed at the Russian Tanzanian Cultural Center in Dar es Salaam last May. Okello Kelo Sam is the creative direcotr of the Ndere Troupe, an internationally-known dance troupe in Uganda.  He has given workshops throughout Europe and the U.S. on Ugandan dance and music.  A gifted actor, he also played a starring role in a film called Abducted: War Child directed by New York director Robert E. Altman, which seeks to raise awareness about the atrocities in northern Uganda, and he also appeared in The Last King of Scotland. He is also the founder of Hope North, a resettlement center in northern Uganda for victims of the LRA civil war.  As part of his work as a peace activist, he is also collaborating with Robert Ajwang’ and Laura Edmondson on a solo performance piece entitled Forged in Fire, which integrates music, dance, and text to explore Okello’s personal experiences of the civil war in northern Uganda. George Seremba is a playwright and actor from Uganda. He was forced to leave Uganda in 1980, having barely survived a botched execution at the hands of military intelligence, and then moved to neighbouring Kenya where he wrote a number of poems and wrote and directed several one-act plays. His first full-length play was entitled The Grave Will Decide, and was written in Winnipeg during his first year in Canada. His play Come Good Rain debuted at Toronto's Factory Theatre Studio Cafe and has also played in Ottawa, Montreal, Los Angeles, London, Jerusalem and elsewhere; the play also won a Dora Award for Most Outstanding New Play in Toronto. Versions of the play were also broadcast on CBC and BBC radio. His most recent play, Napoleon of the Nile, has had a number of professional rea
dings. Currently living in Dublin, George is a student of The Samuel Beckett Centre in Trinity College, where he is working on his PhD.

Andrea Kalima Zawose is a Tanzanian musician who collaborated with Mumbi Kaigwa and Eric Wainaina on KigeziNdoto.  Recent performances include appearing in the Visa 2 Dance Festival at the Russian Cultural Center in Dar es Salaam.  He is currently a student at the Bagamoyo College of Arts in Tanzania.




Roberta Levitow, Project Co-Director

Kenya International Puppetry Festival 2008

 The Kenya International Puppetry FestivalKIPf 2008 INVITATION:The Kenya International Puppetry festival (KIPf 2008) Organization Committee invites you to submit a proposal to participate and present at the Fourth Kenya International Puppetry Festival, (KIPf 2008) to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 10th -18th October 2008. THE FESTIVAL This festival takes place against the background of one fundamental belief…. “That the one place puppetry ought to be is in the theatrical world." It recognizes the nature of puppets and their capacity play in silence and out of silence yet retaining the resilience and agility to mingle with objects, figures, things, people and other genres in time and space. It asks questions:·        What is the theatrical world of puppets?·        How can puppets play between and betwixt bodies, figures and images? ·        Can puppetry be multi-disciplinary, inter-cultural, cross-border and experimental? ·        How do puppets play, dance, construct and deconstruct without losing their essence?These questions are by no means conclusive. TYPES OF PRESENTATIONProposal for presentation will cover a wide range of theatre genres. The festival coordinating committee will be keen to receive proposal for:Puppets, mask, marionette, object and visual theatre performances Workshops on script writing for puppets, puppet construction and manipulation Exhibition of mask, puppets, publication or reading materials on puppetryPlenary discussion and exchanges on the use of puppetry in community education. It is recommended that proposals for performances include a digitalized recording and photos for performance. The proposals should be received by April 2008. The Formatting Committee may use the information contained in it for festival publicity.     PARTICIPATIONKIPf 2008 targets participants from Africa, Europ as well as invited troupes from America and Asia. Participants are advised to seek sponsorship to meet their travel and personal expenses. THE HOST CITYNairobi, the host city, is the capital of Kenya. The name “Nairobi” means the place of cool water” the city which is over hundred years old is a modern centre of commerce, finance, industry and diplomacy. It is a favorite tourist destination. A superb network of world class well managed game parks, biosphere reserves, archaeological sites and pearly white sandy beaches are all easily accessible from the city. Some of these attractions are less than 50 Km from the city centre! Kenya offers some of the finest natural attractions in the world. Her prolific and well conserved wildlife is unparallel.A well designed grid of infrastructure links all these scenic attractions with Mombassa, the gateway to Kenya Coast and the country second largest city, and Kyushu, the lakeside town by the shores of the world famous Lake Victoria. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a premier airport in the region is only 15 minutes drive from the city centre. Festival venues are within walking distance in central Nairobi. ACCOMMODATIONAccommodation is easily available in Nairobi during the festival period. Although the Organizing Committee will ideally prefer all participants to stay in the same place, a goal to which we will strive, there are alternatives. These include home stays, hostel and hotel at daily rates ranging from US$20 to US$100 for bed an breakfast. Participants are strongly advised to make reservation early through the festival secretariat. Inquiries and information to: Phylemon Odhiambo OkothThe Festival Coordinator C/o FPPS / CHAP
PO Box 46042.Nairobi.TEL, 254-02-715002/710705FAX, 254-02-715115  E-mail:  Web: Under construction  

“Peace Drum”: A School of Arts Approach to Peacebuilding

“Peace Drum”A School of Arts Approaches to Peacebuilding

Why “Peace Drum?” History and current experience shows that so deep are the pains of most of the conflicts experienced in the global south that the popular individualized, reductionist and rationalistic approaches to healing and transformation simply lack the language and resources to solidly address the challenge of holistic peaceful transformation. “Arts approaches” provide an accessible language, compelling processes that affirm everyone’s creativity and, above all, an inclusive space that enables healing, genuine dialogue and transformation to happen particularly where the violent conflicts and pains are experienced by masses of people. In the spirit of “Ubuntu” and inspired by the indigenous African motif of the “drum,” Peace Drum  will “drum up” a most significant call to artistes-peacebuilders and peoples in the global south to take greater leadership in intentionally and imaginatively transforming ideologies of violence and, above all, (re)constructing a narrative of justpeace. In this quest, Peace Drum will provide a rich, inclusive and challenging forum for reflective practitioners to celebrate their creative richness; critically and deeply engage; dream and act jointly in producing alternative cultural products and in shaping new narratives of justpeace. Hosted by Ubuntu Arts, Peace Drum will bring together 20 committed artistes-peacebuilders – including educators, development workers, community animators and cultural activists – from the global south who continue to apply various shades of arts approaches in their social change work. The 2-week intensive program of applied training, performances, exhibitions, and direct skills-building experience will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, between September 17 and 28, 2007.  A select number of the participants will be awarded partial scholarships to attend the school. However, all participants will cover their return travel either to Jomo Kenyatta International airport or Nairobi city. Please email your applications to the Coordinator, Peace Drum, at by 10 August 2007. 

The Paths  Before the sun sets, “Peace Drum” envisions that, together, we shall:  ·         enhance our understanding, through applied training and incisive reflection, on the nexus between the arts and peacebuilding/peace education·         offer a critical challenge to existing assumptions and values in peace theory and practice ·         draw upon various artistic traditions and explore several artistic forms for individual and group reflection·         undertake comprehensive documentation – in print and electronic media – of the unique experiences and lessons in contemporary arts approaches to peace work;·         develop a reader including writings by the trainers and participants on arts approaches, as well as collection of cultural resources (music, video, film, literature, etc.)·         strengthen existing initiatives on arts approaches to peacebuilding through support structures and sharing of resources·         build a solid platform for a movement of artistes, cultural workers and peace workers who can initiate, develop and implement collaborative programs on arts approaches·         develop performance pieces and other cultural products as resources for peacebuilding/peace education      

Facilitators The facilitation team will comprise select members of Ubuntu Arts as well experienced artiste-peacebuilders from other parts of the global south. A full list of facilitators will be announced by the end of August 2007.  Babu Ayindo from Kenya, who has extensive experience in applying “arts approaches” to peacebuilding in the various parts of the world will function as lead facilitator while Dessa Quesada-Palm from the Ph
will serve as Consultant Advisor of the Peace Drum on curriculum design and development and  program evaluation.  

Course Outline Week One: (17 – 22, September 2007) Theme: Indigenous Arts, Forum Theater and Community Based Peace Education Indigenous Arts and Philosophy of PeaceStorytelling, Dance and Peace Visual Arts, Ritual and HealingIndigenous Arts and Forum Theater  Week 2: 24 – 28, September 2007 Theme: Integrated Arts Approaches in Healing, Dialogue and Transformation  Integrating Indigenous Arts, Playback Theater and Forum Theater Integrated Arts, Advocacy and DialogueDesigning and Facilitating Community Based Arts and Peace programs 

Ubuntu Arts Peace Drum is an initiative of Ubuntu Arts, a team of artistes keen to share their talents and committed to creative transformation. The spirit of their art is tapped from the enduring wisdom of the Zulu nation: umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu translated as “a person is a person through other persons.” Ubuntu Arts follows the paths of artistes of African descent who have transformed and sustained life through innovating ways designed to retain balance and harmony amongst peoples and all creation. In light of contemporary challenges, Ubuntu Arts affirms the role and responsibility of all humans as creative makers of culture; therefore, Ubuntu Arts endeavors to evolve a (re)humanizing aesthetic that stretches imagination and deepens dialogues in confronting new questions, new challenges. Ubuntu Arts’ programs intentionally build on peoples and community’s indigenous resources and reflective capacity in the envisioning, self-education and social action.   

Ubuntu Arts Team Paschal Wafula (Coordinator);Babu Ayindo (Artistic Director);Carol Okello (Office Manager);Philomena Waithira; Alfred Kibunja; Rispa Were; Wilfred Kioko and Oliver Mbayi ___________________________________ Ubuntu ArtsPO Box 13695 GPO00100