No point in lying about it dear reader: I had a long detailed post all drafted up for your consumption about Pen and Mic II. And Blogger lost it all during it's recent maintenance fiasco. I just want to have a moment of silence here in order to embrace the realities of being a social media user when you don't own the means of production.
Alright then. Pen and Mic was just as good as advertized and a lot more diverse that I had expected to see. Case in point: where else are you going to have a violinist solo for the opening act, meander through feminist poetry and listen to Mzungu Kichaa back up Kwanza Unit within the space of a couple of hours?
The talent in the room was inspiring and fearsome. If this is just a sampling of the culture we have lurking around this city, well we're sitting on something very hot. Actually, I am not in the least surprised- I am old enough to remember the emergence of BongoFlava and East African Channel Five through we've been exporting our brand of Bongo Cool to the neighborhood for a couple of years now.
But don't get me wrong: this is an open-mic kind of event. Which means that after the scheduled programming, we got to listen to some rawer talent. Some of it was magnificent, such as two singer-songwriters who can obviously compose rather well (no beat box!). One of them even has a voice that is pure Motown gold. But then there were others, some of whom I would very lovingly encourage to head back to the drawing board and explore what lies beyond the rhyming couplet.
That said, a major shout-out to those who got up and performed. I know from experience how incredibly hard that can be for writers, which is why I don't demand it of myself*. But I want to send vibes of love, encouragement and inspiration to every single one who faced the mic. I also want to big up the gang behind the event: the organizers, the hosts, the volunteers who supported performers and took pictures and video footage and the audience who put something in the collection plate. Art should be free and accessible. Our government can't do it, so support your local scene where possible.
The event is free, quarterly and if you are interested follow them on Facebook.