Sitawa Namwalie is a Kenyan poet, playwright, writer and performer. In 2014 she won Kenya’s Sanaa Theatre Awards Best Spoken Word and Poetry for her show of dramatized poetry called “Silence is a Woman” which was also received the award for Best Production on Women Rights and Gender Based Violence.
Sitawa Namwalie discovered her poetic gift in 2007 and by 2008 staged her first dramatised poetry show “Cut Off My Tongue” in Nairobi. In 2009, her first book of poetry, “Cut Off My Tongue,” was published. In 2011 her second show called “Homecoming” was performed in Nairobi.
“Cut off my Tongue” was invited to the UK’s prestigious Hay Festival in the UK in 2009. In 2010 “Cut off my Tongue” was selected by the Sundance Theatre Lab in the first East African Sundance Lab held on Manda Island. In the same year the show received a “Highly Commended” from the Freedom to Create an international arts prize. In May 2012 two performances were held in Uganda. In April 2012 Cut off my Tongue was selected by TED Talks on a global search for new and undiscovered acts as an idea worth spreading.In October 2013, Sitawa Namwalie premiered her new show of dramatized poetry called, “Silence is a Woman” which was critically acclaimed. In April 2014 Sitawa participated in the Spoken Worlds project which was an exchange between German and Kenyan poets, spoken word artists, hip hop artist.
Cut of my Tongue has been invited to the inaugural Ubumuntu Arts Festival which will be held in July 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda. The festival uses performance art and performance artists to explore, discuss and deliberate on the large scale human-to-human violence that has become common place around the world since the late 20th Century. Further, the festival will also examine how art can be used in healing the deep seated wounds left by this violence and in building a lasting reconciliation and peace between communities and within countries.
Sitawa has just completed her first play “Black Maria on Koinange Street” and her second play “Room of Lost Names which will be staged in 2015 and 2016. “Black Maria on Koinange Street” was first read at the Kampala International Theatre Festival in November 2014 and at the Pen International Festival in New York City in 2015.
Sitawa works as a consultant in the development sector for many years and has worked with the United Nations, IUCN. She currently earns a living working as an international consultant. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Zoology from the University of Nairobi and a Master of Arts degree in Environment, Society and Technology from Clark University in Massachusetts, USA. Sitawa has achieved excellence in many areas of life, including representing Kenya in tennis and hockey in her youth.
July 11, 2016
Poetry, Spoken-word artist