Name: Martie Mtange
Occupation: Creative Project Manager; Cocktail Mixologist; Writer
Location base: Nairobi city
Blog URL: mtangemartie.wordpress.com
Social Media Platforms
Facebook: Martie Mtange and GrowMyHustle
Instagram: @martierialman and @gmhafrica
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs.
This quote really resonated with me the first time I heard it because it’s so true. I have always felt guilty because I’ve acted, and sang, done bead work, and curated, and made sculptures, and mixed cocktails, and baked, and directed school plays, and written short stories and poetry and taught English in a primary school. I think I’ve really tried everything, and this is why I feel guilty, because where one artist can say they’re a master visual artist, I have no license to say the same because I haven’t spent as much time and effort perfecting the craft as they have.
All I can say confidently is that I’ve always been capable of expressing myself through whatever medium I’m given. I’ve acted as “Okonkwo” from Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”; I’ve reported, written and blogged for “The StoryMoja Festival”, written for the “Lost Coast Review”, mixed cocktails for private events as well as mixed during “Creative Garage” events, mixed cocktails during the Food Euphoria Festival; I’ve worked with finding exhibition opportunities for visual artists such as Richard Njogu and Clavers Odhiambo;
I’ve been a photographer and curator at Ari Africa which was formerly known as the African Heritage Design Company, and I’ve hosted a book salon event called “Kiko Creative’s Salon” where reading enthusiasts would meet monthly to discuss particular topics and books of interest, among other ventures.
I’ve never really been one to confine others or myself, and this is why I believe that if I can do it, then why not?
The 8-4-4 system has its downfalls but it actually taught me several things in retrospect. I first discovered my bias for writing and reading while I was in Class 6 when we first started writing compositions. I remember I would read the newspapers, looking for interesting stories, like if a building caught fire, or a man killed his whole family before taking his whole life, or if a politician was kidnapped and his/her corpse was found in a forest. These stories had always intrigued me because I would wonder, what might have happened before your body reached where it was found? So I would recreate the events that led to that moment, playing out different scenarios and expressing my theories on the composition page, re-living the moment as if I was the one who had been kidnapped or butchered.
Later on as I developed my capacity to write, I was awarded the honor of being “Top in English in Kenya” for my AS-Levels and “Top in General Paper” in Kenya for my A-levels the next year. I don’t like saying this but it was kind of the validation that I needed to continue writing, and I guess from that point on I’ve always been writing. People don’t always like what I write, but I’m okay with that because I’m not an entertainer, I’m a thinker. So if I help anyone who reads my writing to think, then I’ve achieved what I wanted.
That said, I didn’t stop with writing. During my high school years, I did a lot of visual art. I was no good at painting but I was good at pencil work and charcoal and sculpting. In fact my final year project in high school was a resin sculpture of a woman that my family was very proud of. So proud that it’s seated atop the chimney in our home, smiling by itself. I wipe the dust off every now and then.
Throughout my university years I mixed cocktails for money, and I was pretty good at it, I still am actually, and I still do it, and it brings me a lot of happiness, or highs. Literally. I like the look of shock people get after tasting my cocktails; it’s like they’re surprised that I could actually do that.
During my university internship, I went to work at the African Heritage Design Company as a curator because I was trying to find out how upcoming visual artists can exploit the opportunities abroad since at home art wasn’t exactly popping. I’ve always believed that artists are too valuable to sleep hungry, so I was looking for ways on how we can all eat together.
Currently, I’ve set up a site where creative entrepreneurs can upload their projects here (www.growmyhustle.com) and get funding directly from their fan-base and customers. I believe that artists should never sleep hungry and so I’ve taken it upon myself to make sure that those I come into contact never have to. We shall work on ways of making all our art profitable together and make sure that artists are thriving by any means necessary.
In a TED Talk in 2013, Emilie Wapnick identified a certain group of people that I resonate with. They’re called “Multipotentialites” which basically means people who thrive in many different fields because they learn fast, are adaptable and committed not to one discipline, but to learning and doing. I’ve embraced my reality, and I know I can do all these things I apply myself to. My most recent ventures have all been geared towards helping other people succeed in their disciplines, and this gives me satisfaction and a sense of purpose because I’m not dealing with just one kind of art, I’m dealing with all kinds of artists.
I’m currently dealing with a writer, a fashion designer and a health events planner. I’m learning new things every day, I’m still writing and making cocktails and that’s what makes my life so meaningful right now.
To make my talent and that of other creatives profitable.
To communicate and leverage the value in any art form in a sustainable way. A world where artists do not sleep hungry.
Screen Shots of Poetry
12-18 month plan
• To get more projects on the site and ensure their success
• To get more cocktail gigs
• To write for online literary magazines
• To start a platform where artists with projects can share their stories