Name: Muthoni Maina-Mwangi
I grew up wanting to be a neuro-surgeon, like any other “serious” Kenyan child. However, unlike the other “serious” children whose dreams are altered upon the receipt of their chemistry mock exam results, my dream was kept alive despite the chemistry mock results. Why? This was the dream that made sense- I was going to be great and I was going to make a difference in this world. I had always been plagued by my “artistic” side however; it wouldn’t just shut up and go away! I succumbed to its pull and here I am today!
I was put into my first piano class when I was about five years old. I don’t remember much of it though, and the lessons stopped soon after. I moved schools and resumed piano classes at eight years old- I loved it! I actually practiced and played my little keyboard in the house a lot. My parents were impressed, and I figured I could be a Kenyan Ben Carson, loving classical music and doing brain surgery. Unfortunately, two years later my teacher left and I got stuck because I hated sight reading and was not motivated enough to trudge through teaching myself. I moved schools yet again, and this time found a great teacher willing to walk me through my piano book- he left after a term and I was back to square one. I was told I could sign up for another instrument while they waited for the next piano teacher. My options were flute or guitar. My good friend was taking guitar and I figured that worked. Our teacher was a cool dread-locked, Jamaican lady who was amazing- she took out the electric guitars during lesson 3 and I asked to play the bass- I fell in love and my life was never the same. I’ve been playing (albeit on and off) for the past fourteen years, and have been in an all-female band called Baytah for the past five years, among appearances in other bands. I have also taught music (guitar and bass guitar) privately, in various schools and music institutions over the past six years.
Rewind back to my seven-year-old self. My sister would come home from high school and teach me their latest dance routines to the most popular songs. I would internalize them and show her the routines that she had forgotten a school term later, so y nick-name became “hard-drive”. At our church a few years later, we formed a dance group as sisters and would dance on occasion. My sisters later stopped dancing and I discovered contemporary dance; my next love. I began a dance ministry at our church, one arm teaching little girls values through dance and the other encouraging women who used to dance to keep dancing! It was great while it lasted, but I moved to a smaller church and that was it. In the past couple of years I have had performances at various churches and have choreographed two one hour shows incorporating dance, while running a ‘dance and self-awareness’ program for a small group of girls at a local university.
I love musicals, and every so often I’m convinced that I think in musical format. My reasoning before joining university was that theatre is the one avenue where all my gifts come together; my love for performed stories, incorporating music and dance. I was convinced that this was my calling. More than that though, my undergraduate degree is in Development Studies because I wanted to explore theatre/art for development. I applied to do theatre for development at a university abroad and didn’t get a scholarship the first time round. The University of Nairobi was offering a Masters’ degree in Theatre and Film Studies, and I was hesitant to join it because I wanted to specifically do theatre and study in depth its role or it can be a tool for development. When I began the course however, I was impressed by film and its potential! Since beginning the course in 2013, I have written and directed one film, and just directed another one. I am currently working on a documentary film which should be complete this year.
I have discovered my heart for education, having taught in different capacities since 2008, from Sunday School to music, to culture, which is my current occupation. I am interested in bridging the gap in our Kenyan arts education, so individuals may be equipped to complete on a global level.
To bridge the gap in arts education in Kenya so that individuals may be adequately equipped to compete on a global platform.
To be an education game-changer in Kenya, by using the arts to inspire creativity among students of all ages.
1 month- Do remaining interviews, write Journal article and begin to edit documentary
2 months- Finish editing documentary and any remaining things to add; submit to academic board
3 months- Defend project, register company, write biography; think of what I’d like it to be, do research
4 months- Do poster, online marketing for Saturday Arts Club; do curriculum, get resources
5 months- Write at least 3 scripts for schools Film Festival
6 months- Sell scripts, pitch to schools
7 months- Sell scripts, pitch to schools
8 months- Begin Saturday Arts Club
9 months- Start ballet/modern class at least once a week for exams
12 months- Have10-15 regular children at Arts Club
13 months- Start PGCE
15 months- Sit for LCM Bass Guitar exam