Kenyan History has been scored and underscored by music. From when it was interwoven with every aspect of life, across all the nations and communities that are now counted as Kenyan, in precolonial times. To today when a doltish action by a government official can unwittingly turn a club banger into a protest song. We cannot be separated from our music. We punctuate everything with music. Music might be the only thing Kenyans agree on.
So it is only right that the Sixth Edition of Too Early For Birds focuses on the stories behind the tunes we are made of. A series of storytelling productions started in 2017, TEFB has made it its mission to do to history what hip-hop did to soul music. To dig through the crates, to sample it, to spin it, to flip it. Make it funky. So far, we have told stories about iconic figures like Tom Mboya, Wangari Maathai and Timothy Njoya. We have shouted the names of unsung heroes like Field Marshal Muthoni wa Kirima, Otenyo Nyamaterere, Zarina Patel and The Nyayo House Survivors. We have reexamined what we know about people like Paul Ngei and why we did not know about William McMillan, or Alibhai Mulla Jevanjee, or the battles at Lumboka and Chetambe. Or why we can’t remember exactly what it was that Syokimau and Mekatilili did.
This Beats Edition promises to be yet another session filled with excellently curated, prepared and delivered stories. Performed by the finest actors in Nairobi. And, since some of the legendary figures in Kenyan History are still alive, this looks to be one of the few instances where art blurs the border between the past and present.
The director and actors are yet to be announced, but we already know it has been written by a formidable team lead by the cofounders Ngartia and Abu Sense, accompanied by Mercy Mbithe, Paul Otieno, Anita Murage, Mosoti Gathogo, Victoria Kagichu, Valiant Waiyaki and Meera Damji.
Executive Produced by Story Zetu LTD, this edition is built on the foundation they have laid with the past editions of Too Early For Birds:
- Unsung Heroes – Edition 1: The first volume was staged on the 17th of May 2017 and focused on people who never made it to Kenya’s mainstream history. It was produced by Miriam Kadzitu of Code Ink and directed by Wanjiku Mwawuganga.
- Dissent – Edition 2: The second edition ran on the 29th and 30th of July. It focused on Kenyan stories of resistance. It was produced by Miriam Kadzitu of Code Ink and directed by Wanjiku Mwawuganga.
- Badassery – Edition 3: This edition told stories from the history of violent crime in Nairobi. It was staged on the 13th and 14th of January of 2018. And again on the 19th, due to public demand. It was produced by Miriam Kadzitu of Code Ink and directed by Wanjiku Mwawuganga.
- Brazen – Edition 4: The Brazen Edition was executive produced by the LAM Sisterhood and Story Zetu. Brazen was created, researched and written by the LAM Sisterhood, who are Laura Ekumbo, Aleya Kassam and Anne Moraa. It focussed on telling stories of heroic women in Kenyan history, and was staged by a team composed entirely of women – both in cast and crew. It was staged on the 27th, 28th and 29th of July 2018. It was produced by Gathoni Kimuyu and directed by Wanjiku Mwawuganga.
- Tom Mboya Edition – 5: After a long break, the team came together again in October of 2019 at The Visa Oshwal Community Centre with stories from the life and death of Tom Mboya. It is being produced by Gathoni Kimuyu and directed by Mugambi Nthiga. The show was brought back on stage in November of 2019 due to impassioned public demand.
Too Early For Birds 6th edition will have two shows each day on 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th April 2020 at Visa Oshwal Community Center, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tickets are available on Mookh.