One of my favorite Swahili words is ‘kabisa’. It means ‘totally’, or ‘completely’, and in my own Kenyan slang I always used the word to mean ‘excellent’. I used it in most every class I taught at Kenyatta University. When something went well I would shout KABISA. It’s a good word.
I haven’t posted in 10 months, but my mind and heart is never far from Kenya. In August I made the rash and last minute decision to apply for the LAKE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL to be held in Kisumu, Kenya. The Festival was looking for short film entries in an African language. I decided to make a short film, my first, as a valentine to my Kenyan friends and former students. I wrote the film, found actors willing to play on short notice, filmed for a day, and edited the film in a little over a week. I am grateful for the help of my actors Madeleine Page-Schmit, Kenzie Clark, and Rupert Spraul and my editor Sarah Durham. The film is silly, and it was made with love.
I taught the actors a handful of Kenyan words, and we made a film completely in Kiswahili. The film is a dream film, where a guy dozes off when hanging out with some friends, and in his dream he hunts wildly for the Kenyan flag, under which he fell asleep. He keeps asking ‘Where is it?’ (‘Iko wapi?’) and when he is shown the wrong items he keeps saying ‘No’ (‘Hapana’.) When he wakes up he asks again, only to discover he’s had the Kenyan flag all along. They celebrate.
I have three flags hanging on the wall in my garage at home. I have a Kenyan flag, an Irish flag, and an American flag. A film was born in an instant when I saw them on the wall.
The film was a semi-finalist in the LAKE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL and was screened in Kenya last month. Asante sana Zippy Okoth.
Please enjoy this little love letter to Kenya. Cheers!