Every civilization exists on stories. Legends weave the fabric that shapes how people view themselves, their history and it defines their esteem and dignity. It is through stories that countries form perceptions of heroes and instances that defined their futures, failures, and successes.
The team behind Too Early For Birds, which includes some of the finest performance artists in the country – led by Abu Sense and Ngartia, has gone back into the timeline of Kenya seeking moments that built who we are as a country. The result is stories of sweat, blood and sheer courage ranging from resistance against the British colonialists to standing against cold-blooded dictators. Most of which were never taught in school. These stories found a home on one blogger’s site – Morris Kiruga of Owaahh.com
They are stories that inspire awe, terror, and admiration
Why These Stories?
The stories of Mũthoni Nyanjirũ and Otenyo Nyamaterere are some of the main ones in the production. Mũthoni was a lady who lead a crowd of 8, 000 Kenyans in an attempt to rescue a jailed leader – Harry Thuku – in 1922. Otenyo leads a resistance against unfair British punitive expeditions that included reckless killing and scorched earth policy in 1908.
They are stories of our heroes. People, we should celebrate and look up to. People that should inform the national agenda and history.
One of the heaviest stories in the lineup is that of the Nyayo House Torture chambers. They were used to stomp down on anyone who dared speak up in the oppressive Moi regime. They contributed largely to the decline and near-death of the performance art scene in Kenya. They were opened to the public in 2003 after what is arguably the first democratic general elections.
These are stories of struggle and triumph. Stories of hope and desolation. Our stories.
These stories are so similar in terms of agenda and execution despite the fact that Mũthoni was Kikuyu and Otenyo was Kisii and those tortured in the Nyayo Chambers were picked indiscriminately from all over the nation.
These stories show us who we really are. They show that we have shared adversity. That we have always overcome. That despite what our divisive politics might try to convince. These stories spark conversations between ethnic groups. From a place of familiarity. It is also at the right time to remind Kenyans as they go to vote that their decisions determine whether we’ll go down that path of dictatorship and censorship again.
A snippet of the show was showcased at the iconic Phoenix Theatre for the Kwani? Open Mic series in 2016 October.
This year the team has the vision to stage a series of shows in May, July, and September. The main idea behind this series is to tell Kenyan stories in a Kenyan space to a Kenyan audience. They are mostly narratives that have been sidelined in the national arena and more specifically ignored in schools curriculums.
The first volume of ‘Too Early For Birds’ will be on May 17th at The Kenya National Theatre. Doors Open at 6.00 pm and the show starts at 7.00 pm.
Join us as we raise the stories of our people to a legendary status.