Name: Kihonge Kamau
Occupation: Writer, Film Producer
Location or base of operation: Kwa Mwanya Kariara Arts. Kimandi/ Muranga county
Social Media: Facebook Kihonge Kamau
I was born in the year 1983 as the 5th born in a family of nine in Kivumbini of the larger Nakuru District. My father was a hydraulic and automotive engineer working for Government Parastatal Forest Industries Training Center (F.I.T.C.) while my mother was a vegetable vendor at Fagharia Market. Late 1984 my mother and i left to take care for the newly acquired family land in lower Subukia where she practiced farming. Three years later the other sibling joined us and we started living together.
In 1988 I joined Akuisu Nursery School and I started having interest in music since my elder sister Wanjiku was the only person who represented her school in National Festivals with the help of Mr. Githu singing Negro spiritual. In 1989 I participated in a Sunday School dramatized dance with the help of our Sunday School teacher, an old lady by the name Hellen Wangari popularly known as Wamucui. During the festivals where I played the role of an old drunken man we performed a song entitled “Nimwendete Mwathani” (do you love God), a song which was dear to one epileptic and polio victim faithful called Githeng’u and so people used to call it “rwimbo rwa githeng’u” (Githengu’s song). Kianugu local church emerged winners we came second and Nyamamithi third. The epitorn of that festival was how Kianugu Sunday School ate the boiled maize furiously as if they were in war and I have never understood whether it was because it was the only trophy available.
The same year, my elder sister did another negro spiritual and went to the nationals also with the help of Mr. Githu, and I was happy to be related with her since I had joined class one and we were in the same school. In 1990, it was no simple for her to continue with the festivals because she was now an adolescent and my mother didn’t like her company with male a teacher at the festivals and it took all efforts to convince my mother that she was on safe hands and allowed her to do it. Also with a negro spiritual piece she went to the nationals. I would try to do the pieces but my vocals needed more training which my sister had acquired in her former “Free hold primary school Nakuru Town”. During this time Hellen was getting more elderly and we couldn’t perform anymore at the Sunday School, the only plat form left since my elder sister had dominated primary school. In 1991 a new music teacher by the name Mr. Owila came in and changed the tactics aiming the national and now my sister didn’t do it alone but with some other class 8 pupils, the late Wambui Ngugi and late Karari Mwangi. The trio did a Gusii song, but didn’t make it to the nationals and I was disappointed than everyone. Following the exit of my sister, all those who had developed love with music me included, thought it was our turn.
After the transfer of Mr. Owira come in Mrs. Beatrice Atieno who had so much interest in traditional music and she immediately recruited dancers for 1992 music festivals and rehearsals commenced. Being a conservative protestant Christian, my mother perceived traditional music as evil and this was a big blow to my interest in music since I couldn’t go against her wish and the doctrines of our faith and that was the trend for the whole of my primary school life because all the items that the school presented to the festivals were traditional but I followed closely because my best friends Duncan Kariuki and George Njogu were dancers . In 1991 and 1992, Maingi and his two brothers entertained us in the pastoral union with the school guitar and they moved masses with their emotions especially when they sang the then popular song “mwatigire mwathani ambitwo muti iguru” (you left Jesus crucified on the cross) backed with the accordion played by a tough mathematics teacher called Mr. Mwaura. This made me love musical instruments but would not access one except in 1993 when I and my elder brother when going to a shopping center on a Sunday afternoon met with Mr. Kamondo, a high school teacher from our division who was also a musician and his secular music “Ann Njeri ni giboko” was very popular those days. Mr. Komondo was riding his bike carrying his guitar on the back and he was so pressed by urine. He stopped us and gave the bycicle to my brother and gave me the guitar and rushed to the nearby bush to relief his bladder. To me this was heaven on earth, but on his return i touched the guitar string accidentally and it made some sound. Due to the fear and respect we had for teachers, i felt an offender and started crying but he consoled me and trained me to play the guitar for about two minutes and told me that I will be a great musician in future. We had a darama (drum) at home and I used to play it a lot since it was the only instrument i accessed easily also when we went to graze, my colleagues sung and I whistled as an accompaniment which even today am a talented whistler. In 2009 and 2010 Kenya National Music and Cultural Festivals, the adjudicators wrote on our adjudication sheet that I was talented whistler.
1997 i joined Kabazi secondary school and had much interest in drama but didn’t fit any role because i was too short and young. Only one time in 1998 that the script demanded a short guy but brown in complexion and a form three student by the name Chris took the part since am dark. Our drama teacher used to write mashairi for a local daily “taifa leo” and since he sympathized with me a lot for missing a chance in school dramas, he taught me how write mashairi until I was perfect.
In 1999 my parents experienced the hardest financial constrain ever after finishing all the money dad had received as a golden handshake in 1994 and i had no other course open to me other than dropping out of high school in form three. Leaves for Muranga and begins cultivating our abandoned ancestral land. There, I mobilize a group of youth working in tea farms and we would sing on events but the community perceived us as criminals of some kind or outlaw. In that year, Kameme fm is opened and they had this programme called Kameme Book club. The program host was Evans Wanyoike and the guest were Irebe Mwangi and Mwalimu Gichia. As they read through written works I got more interest in writing which they also encouraged a lot.
2002 was my year since that’s when I started to be published on Taifa Leo mashairi page either on Saturday or Sunday. The same year i met my uncles new farm worker who hailed from Saboti by the name Antony Simiyu Tsyamba. Antony wrote english poetry so i had to be close to him because i wanted someone to teach me english since i didn’t know much. In few months of our friendship we had written a HIV/AIDS play entitled the trench but we didn’t perform it because we lacked a cast. Antony finds a good job with B.A.T and shifts to Thika town. In 2003 i wrote another play entitled “Umiani” which was about gender violence. I managed to get a cast and rehearsals commenced but the main character who was a lady got married a far distance one week before the show started. I was very disappointed since it would be hard to get another person and catch up within limited time and that’s where the idea of relocating to Nairobi came. I didn’t have money to settle for myself in Nairobi, so, i needed someone to accommodate me and the only person i knew was my cousin. My cousin Godfrey Kihonge told me he was living with some other guys where he was hosted so it was hard for him to accommodate me and i had to wait until he settle. I continued writing mashairi for taifa leo while I worked as a matatu conductor until mid 2005 when he settled after college and called me to live with him in Mathare North, Nairobi. He took me to the National theatre where I went to several auditions without success before i bumped to a travelling theatre group that did set books. We rehearsed for two months without any show and the group dissolved. I met a lady from Nakuru by the name Wanjiru then acting with Jicho four and she introduced me to veteran actor Eduardo Waigwa who gave me my first acting job as an extra in his movie entitled The Seventh Commandment where I acted as a policeman. When on set, I forgot all the lines from the script and asked my fellow police man (Andronico Otieno) “What is not happening?” And that is how it is in the movie up to date.
River road by then was booming with VCD comedy business and having what i assumed as experience from The Seventh Commandment I went around houses introducing myself as a movie star and a script writter. I met and exchanged contacts with the then masters of the craft. Nduti onestop held auditions at the Kenya National Theatre and i auditioned as a playboy but bumped on a major role of a husband henpecked by the wife and this was a great breakthrough. I did many kikuyu movies and comedies which i can’t even remember the concept or titles and many English movies like Against my Will, Misfortunes, Never ever, Bird in hand, Deceptions, The orphan and many more.
My scripts according to many River road producers were complicated and they just wanted simple comical things so i didn’t have good luck over it. I remember one of my scripts entitled “Back to my Home Church” stayed for two years exactly in the shelves of one production house and never went through it. It was after that i made decision that i will never approach any other producer until I get money to produce for my own and the journey for saving money to produce myself began. In 2005-2006 i did present mashairi on Ali Mtenzis program called Johari that aired on KTN at 6:30 pm daily and on Sunday from 10:00am to 12:00pm, which we did without pay. Too much substandard content flooded on the Riverroad market and it almost collapsed and the sales went low. The reasons behind were lack of story lines, otherwise, filmography aspects like lighting, sounds camera work or graphics didn’t matter to the audience even today. I felt bad to see that I had good scripts that would sell but producers were not willing to take, and those who were selling at that time they were just selling their names which they had build being the beginners in the market but not that they had anything unique to offer and that’s why even today they don’t sell. At this time now i was doing public shows, both Kikuyu political and bedroom fusses. I doubled as a traditional dancer where we performed for private, corporate and state functions. November 2008 i met a Ugandan guy auditioning at the KNT. During auditions I introduced myself as a script writer and after two days they called me and met in town. Asked whether I would write a script in two days and says yes. They didn’t have a specific theme and so I choose national healing and cohesion since it was the topic of the day. In two days I delivered the script and rehearsals commenced and the play staged on December but they didn’t pay me or the cast even though the turn out was good.
2012 I produced my first movie entitled “ Beyond Reach” and in 2014 I and Ken Kimani we produced “Guilt of Kindness” which was nominated for Kalasha Awards 2014 in the category of best original screen play. I have many scripts both for stage and film.
Tell the African story and the beauties of her rich cultural diversity to the world by negotiating the terms of existence through the prophetic eye of a camera.
Give the world will to carry on co-existing harmoniously and celebrate diversity through film.
18 Months Plan
Being amongst the few creative entrepreneurs in East Africa privilege to undergo the creative entrepreneurship course, I will put into practice everything that I learnt. I will start by formalizing my craft and register a company limited. “ KWA MWANYA KARIARA ARTS. Open it a bank account and craft contracts that I will use in business. I will use the skills acquired networks formed and opportunities sported to make my craft economically sustainable and viable. Even though I am sure that for those 18 months Kwa Mwanya Kariara will only be existing on legal documents, I will have made notable progress in making it visual and tangible that in the future it will be the biggest cultural and film centre in Murang’a County. In those 18 months chances are i will have produced a movie entitled “ THE HARVEST” and one my serials Mukui Uri Ihwe pitched on a local TV. I am sure that in those 18 months I will have studied and understand the Kenyan cultural and creative industries bill and the same for the East Africa legislative assembly and the section and article of our constitution that touches either culture or creative industries. I have always had much interest on cultural and creative industries policy so i will try to find more courses with regard to cultural economics. I will lobby for collaborations with other people in the creative industries and see how we can better our different crafts if merged together. By so doing i will have done justice to myself, my craft, my facilitators during the course of the creative entrepreneurship, the entire creative industries fraternity and the nation as a whole.