There is more truth in poetry than there is in history, more comfort than there is in religious writings. It is in pursuit of truth and comforts that at 6 PM on a Saturday evening I take a polished staircase to a lounge on Nakuru’s Kenyatta Avenue. Zeilabia lounge.
It is a warm evening, the sun is reluctant to set and the whole of Nakuru’s population seems to be in the streets. Twenty five or so of us are gathered in the lounge sited in a semi-circle, poets, poetry lovers, art lovers. Most ladies are in African print sun-dresses. Beautiful dresses. Guys are in whatever they could reach first. Sitawa Wafula is before us perched on a bar-stool. She is wearing a smile, an orange African print dress and a spoon as a pendant. Her hair is styled to form an elegant but shy Mohawk.
Sitawa is a philharmonic poet. Philharmonic because her poetry because her poetry feels like music, it rhymes, nicely repetitive and rings in your head days later. Sitawa will shock you though, more than once. She will tell you she is a mental health patient. She will tell you she is a rape survivor. Most of all she will shock you because she smiles as she tells of her ordeal. She is strong and doesn’t ask for your sympathy or pity. She just wants to illuminate darkness, hers and others’.
Her poetry is like an unwritten, unpublished omnibus. She tells tales with no fear of criticism and ignorant analysis. Her poetry is a honest expression free of perceptions. But she is not made of sad tales of vanquish. She has them all; of love, of life, of laughter, of wine, of dance.
In between her poetry, she lets others tell their tales too. She lets an upcoming band charm your pants off with rhumba and zilizopendwa. She gives spoken word artists a stage too. She lets you mingle and speed date and serves you wine so that you are not tongue tied.
She is slow to anger, not even when you ask for an encore or do not clap. She is not upset when you walk out on her for petty reasons like a phone call. Not even when you poke your nose into her business on how she deals with her condition. She smiles when she agrees, she smiles when she disagrees, she hard to read.
She makes you feel like your life is burning well –even when it is not, and poetry is the ash. Worst of all she makes time fly by fast. She calls her sessions Sitawa Ignited. And no she did not pay me to write this.
Soundtrack: Seize The Day – Avenged Sevenfold