Powerful personal tales at The Moth

Saturday February 3 2018

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Melinda Gates and the storytellers. PHOTO | COURTESY

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (fourth-left), Melinda Gates (fourth-right) and the storytellers. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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The Moth, the international storytelling was in Nairobi on January 25, at the Kenya National Theatre in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Akili Dada among others.

With the theme Stories of Women and Girls and hosted by the effervescent South African writer and activist Sisonke Msimang, the event brought a well trained pan-African cast.

From Kenya, Sandra Kimokoti discussed questions of body politics, body shaming, self-esteem and self-love.

Memusi Saibulu from Tanzania, a young Maasai girl currently in Form 6 regaled the audience with the terrifying experience she underwent when she was almost pulled out of school to marry a man double her age. Her resistance made her a community hero.

Faith Ekienabor from Nigeria told her story of overcoming the mental limitations of blindness and it was particularly moving. A stunning young woman in her 20s, she contracted glaucoma and lost her sight.

She told of how she shut herself out from the world following this traumatic happening, and having to depend on family and friends for support, and how she overcame her fear to live a normal life again.

Rehema Nanfuka’s (Uganda) ordeal on the other hand elicited nothing short of rage considering the trending #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment around the world. She was physically abused by an actor on set, and her journey towards getting justice was nothing short of the same abuse all over again. She was berated by fellow producers and received no support from the police.

She eventually dropped the case, but even then she remained cognisant of the irony of all this having taken place at the end of having made a film on ending violence; and in the context of violence against women on production sets, as seen by the #MeToo hashtag.

Started by novelist George Dawes Green in New York in 1997, The Moth was set up to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honour and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.

It has so far been showcased in over 25 cities, is featured on more than 200 radio stations worldwide and holds 500 live shows annually. Its featured stories are true and based on real and lived experiences of their narrators.

The Moth has previously held storytelling workshops in Kenya in 2014 and in Uganda in 2015.