Ogutu Muraya’s healing storytelling

We were there: an evening with Ogutu Muraya, a Kenyan writer, theatre maker and storyteller. On Thursday the 9th of July, 2015, Muraya gave a performance at the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development in Amsterdam, as part of its ‘Cultural Defiance’ event series. 
Most of his stories are based on true events driven by the past, living memories about cultural, social and political events in Kenya and the region. Muraya shared three stories with the audience. In ‘Nobody Knows My Name’ he recalls his departure from Kenya and meeting his first love. ’Toilet Training’ tells a story of toilet divisions for blacks and whites. Lastly, ‘The Language of One’ touches upon the role of women in society. Here is this cat looking for the strongest and smartest creature to be friends with. After courting several animals from a monkey to a elephant, the cat comes across a man who shoots his new animal friends. Is it only a woman that can silence the guns used by men, he wonders?  Women are the strongest and smartest living beings on earth, the cat concludes.

What is behind these tales? Muraya explained  how he had his birth name Joshua changed into Ogutu Muraya, thus bringing together the two fighting tribes that are part of his family roots. It was a sad occasion that made him do so. When his parents married no one attended. The Ogutu’s didn’t show up because the Muraya’s were there, and the other way around. The storytellers whole life was based on rejection and a fight for peace. Storytelling brought him a way to deal with it.

Gökçe Akyüz was doing an internship at ZAM during the summer of 2015.

Gökçe Akyüz