My Date with Victor, Swahili poet

Meet Victor Muyekwe or Chisaina, an actor and a poet, majoring in Swahili poems. Victor is also a 2nd-year undergraduate taking Theatre art and film technology at Kenyatta University.

Photo c/o Victor

How would your friends describe you?

(Laughs) The level of my stupidity tells me this is the same question Jesus asked his disciples after a certain mission. Anyway, I have different kinds of friends and am sure all of them would have a different description: talented, hard-working and simple.

 

What is your art and literary background?

 I started performance way back when I was about five years old. I used to imitate the likes of Kibaki and Raila and also sing along the lyrics of some songs. People really enjoyed listening to me do it. Later, I would read and cram some poems in the course books (about primary two) then I would just recite to my friends or deskmates. That’s how I fell in love with poetry.
Then the church came in to give me a bigger platform where I performed the poetry. It is this kind of performance that made me grow in terms of performance. I got encouragement from the congregation every time I performed because they never failed to applaud. The school later gave me also a platform for performance where I would perform during school academic days and even compete in music festivals.

 

The church was also the pillar literary. I didn't believe I could write. Initially, I just performed already-written poetry. So the writing came somehow accidentally. So during the December Holiday, our church usually hosts a yearly meeting conference where different quarters congregate for fellowship and competition (choir, play and poetry). So the Sunday school kids wanted to go to the conference but they didn't have a poem to perform. So their co-ordinator approached me and asked me to write something for them since she used to see me perform. I tried, it wasn't perfect but it started it all.

Did you always want to study theatre art and film?

No. I always had the passion but it never occurred to me that one could take such a course in the higher learning institutions. So, through the influence of my father, I wanted to be a lawyer until I knew theatre arts exits while in form four and I just had a change of heart. I guess my family hasn't fully forgiven me for that till now, I hope they will.

How did you get started as a Swahili poet and what/is the inspiration?

I started Swahili poetry accidentally as I said. But gradually I would try new styles and I moved a step, I am still moving. Wallah Bin Wallah has been a great inspiration to me. The way he crafted his poems just amazed me. So I fell in love with his poetry even before I started writing. I just wanted,(I still want) to be like him. Another inspiration came from Ken Walibora, though I knew him as a novelist and his novels didn't miss pieces of poetry which were beautifully crafted.

Tell us about performances that you have been part of and those that are on your bucket list

I can't say I have been part of so many performances, Just some plays so far including Mau Mau by M-entertainment, and Justice for all, the gods of port Likoni by Center Art Productions among others.

I had some performances coming but then Corona came, I will let you know when am back.

Between writing and performing poetry, which one do you enjoy the most and why?

I enjoy performing. I have done performances for a long time compared to writing. Secondly and most importantly, in a performance I get to interact with my audience directly and make them feel and understand what I mean, written words can sometimes be hard to understand.

Swahili is not an easy language, at least for many of us, why Swahili, and what are your views on the power of language when it comes to art?

I think Swahili is treasured by more people in the western part of Kenya, which is my home place. I also just love Swahili so much. I had interacted with Swahili poetry more compared to English therefore writing Swahili became easier. The notion that Swahili is not an easy language makes it even harder for people to associate with it. Originality is an aspect I treasure and it has kept me going.

 

Language is very powerful when it comes to art. If the audience doesn't understand the language, then you might end up losing them if the performance isn't captivating. Some will just hang on performance because they love the language being used. But all in all, a good piece of art will always have space in the hearts of people no matter the language used.

How do your poems develop? Please take us through the process of a poem

(Laughs) I do not have a specific formula for developing my poems. However, most of the time I just have an idea, then I research more about the topic. I imagine what the audience might feel about what I intend to write then I just write without minding the syllables and rhyme as per the rules of Swahili poetry( arudhi za ushairi). Afterwards, I edit the piece to fit the rules.

How do you transfer what you learn in class to your writing and performances?

It is not easy to transfer classwork into writing and performance. It takes, hard work and discipline.

What do you aim to achieve with your art?

I aim to grow it in a unique style and inspire more people who are still writing. I also purpose to teach/educate and entertain.  I won't pretend that I don't need it to earn me money.

 

Do you have plans to publish your work?

It has always been a dream of mine to publish my work since I started writing, I hope it will come true soon.

What does art success looks like to you and how easy/hard is it to attain?

Art succeeds when the intended message reaches home. The attainment of the success entails practice and the level of practice will determine how easy or hard it is to take the message home.

What is the most enjoyable and challenging part of your art?

I enjoy it when my art stimulates the emotions of the audience. The challenging part is mostly the "Swahili is hard" part.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

I am writing and looking forward to more performance. Great things are coming.

Find him on social media:

Instagram - @victormuyekwe

Facebook -  Chisaina or Vicky Muye


2 comments

  1. Finally i get to meet the bold man himself...always a pleasure reading your work bro

    ReplyDelete