Andrew Lwanga Ssebaggala is an emergent Storyteller from Uganda and avid researcher in this art form. He has had five years solid experience performing for school audiences around Kampala, Uganda as well as special guest performance appearances at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia, 2007) and Makerere University (Uganda, 2009). Together with his performance company - House of Talent (HOT), Andrew was part of a core team of featured Storytellers during the 6th edition of the Amakula Kampala International Film Festival (2009). He co-founded House of Talent (HOT) - a Kampala-Uganda based Performance Company focused on contemporary presentations of indigenous African expressive art forms. This year’s Sigana International Storytelling Festival presents him as a fast rising Eastern African Storytelling artiste with a bias towards traditional oral folklore material.
Two pieces in his growing repertoire include the Legend of Kintu and Nambi as well as a folktale piece pitting the wits of a master trickster against human royalty called the Hare & the Kings. In the Legend of Kintu & Nambi, Ssebaggala digs deep into the mythical origins of his Baganda people. It is a tale that combines the ethos of hard work, selflessness, character temperament, celestial love relationships and resistance to cruelty. Questions about who the Buganda say they are, from where they came and why resilience is a definitive virtue in their lives are all beautifully dealt with in this cross-generational tale.
The Hare and the Kings is another trickster tale that details the exploits of Hare. This time he takes the entire community of fellow animals for a ride as he eats from their hard earned toil. When the animal community slaps him with potentially life threatening sanctions, the wily fellow is forced to undertake a journey that finally brings him right into the courtyard of the King of the human race! Pushed towards the supposedly end of his wits, the Hare digs deep into his famous reservoir of brilliance to not only survive but prevail!
Diane Ferlatte steeped in oral tradition from a tender age, Diane Ferlatte has been researching, collecting and telling stories for over twenty years. Diane has toured internationally in Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Bermuda, Holland, Sweden, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Colombia and Senegal, amongst others. She has also frequently been featured as a storyteller at the annual National Storytelling Festival in the USA and in many other festivals in the world. She sees herself as a traditional preserver of folk history, culture and values. This widely traveled teller loves to tell stories that hold truths touching upon our common humanity while emphasizing the history, struggles and triumphs of the African American experience. She also weaves tales from other cultures granted the multicultural renaissance of the oral tradition. Her repertoire includes hundreds of stories and songs, folk tales, fables, legends, historical, contemporary and personal stories for all ages. In her performances she sings, signs (American Sign Language) and uses percussive instruments.
In addition to performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, as part of President Clinton’s first inauguration, Diane has received numerous honors. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award, the National Black Storyteller's Zora Neale Hurston Award have all availed her grants and she has previously been honored with the California Arts Council’s highest ranking. All her recordings have also won awards including those from Parents’ Choice, the American Library Association, National Parenting Publications, the National Youth Storytelling Pegasus Award, Storytelling World Awards, iParenting Media, as well as a 2008 Grammy nomination.
For Diane, storytelling is all about that time of intimate connection with the listener; the opportunity for a value to be learned, or encouragement to be gained, knowing that others before oneself have conquered fears and challenges similar to their own. The thought that the right story at the right time can enrich a person’s day, and even make the world a little better place keeps her storytelling. To crown it all, Ferlatte is profiled in "African American Voices of Triumph: Creative Fire", a Time/Life Books publication as well as a middle school textbook "The Language of Literature", published by McDougal Littell.
Diane comes to the 2010 Sigana International Storytelling Festival with her hands and spirit full of gifts of Tales to share. This is her first time coming to the east coast of Africa to re-unite with folks in very many ways!
Eunice Wambui is a Kenyan-Belgian who has decided to pack her bags and dash homewards specifically to be part of 2010 Sigana International Storytelling Festival! She cannot wait to share her personal journeys, experiences, nuances and bare spirit of a home girl reflecting upon the unwinding settler’s exploration of a life in the Diaspora; a life that has tested and stretched her cultural sensitivities to the full; a life that has synthesized her reconnection with an oral traditional heritage uncovered through words, feelings sometimes amidst soft, loud silences of contemplation.
Using a distinct style of satire and dance to compare Kenya and Belgium, she will underscore sensitive topics including our expectations of the West and differences and commonalities in lifestyles, culture, politics, religion, teenagers, children and women.
Githae is a profiled screen actor for TV and film. He had years of experience as a radio presenter, theatre director and production manager. He is currently a leading drama teacher in an international school in Kenya. He has had 12 years of theatre arts and performance creation and touring across Eastern Africa. With colleagues and Zamaleo ACT, Githanda is at the core of developing professionalism in the practice of Storytelling performance.
Wangari Grace is a seasoned Storyteller who has gained her skills performing in most unlikely places for quite often unpredictable audiences. She is much at home with both young and adult gatherings with a performance style grounded in open, interactive participatory storytelling. She is a regular Storyteller with Zamaleo ACT, professional Kenyan Storytellers as well as the annual Sigana International Storytelling Festival, now in its 5th year. She has also performed in Uganda, Tanzania and Sweden and features on Jambo Toto, a children’s program on KBC TV.
Hellen Alumbe Namai perches at the apex of modern Kenyan developed Sigana storytelling practice. She performs as an integral part of Zamaleo Sigana Storytellers whose signature revolves around uplifting Storytelling beyond words. The art of animated banter, chants, music, sing along tunes, narration, persuasive dramatics, dance and movement are all weaved into infectious voyages into fictionalized worlds that are immediately grounded upon varied realities informing our every day lives. Alumbe has performed internationally in Sweden, South Africa, Re-Union, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. She started off as an actress and soon turned into full time professional Storyteller over the past ten years. Alumbe is a well-known creative within Kenyan educational circles as a persuasive Storyteller-Teacher with unforgettable impact on young learners. In addition to her often-busy performance schedule, Alumbe runs master storytelling workshops besides mentoring young tellers into future professionals.
"MC KJ, as he is popularly known on stage is a seasoned professional storyteller with five years of experience in the field. He is the founder of KEIJEI Entertainment Company. He was a finalist at the Annual Storymoja Hay festival in 2009.His contemporary, poetic, comical and breath-taking stories renders his audience to stitches. In fact one is never enough. He is a social, down to earth young man. He usually performs around Nairobi, Mc's in events such as garden weddings, church events and other gigs. He narrates, thinks, dreams, and sings African living tales. He insists that he was born talking.
Jasper S Kaye is a young Ugandan born theatre director whose interest in performance drove him into a memorable life-changing encounter visit to the famed Makerere University’s Department of Music, Dance and Drama over 5 years ago. In time, he obtained a diploma in all the three creative disciplines. Thereafter, he ventured into professional theatre with House of Talent Company (HOT) – a Ugandan creative outfit specializing in indigenous African performance expressions. Jasper has zeroed in on Storytelling as an area art of great interest to him. He combines his much-loved specialty of lyrical recitation with interactive storytelling techniques to help him explore the richness of Ugandan folkloric heritage.
He sees his coming to 2010 Sigana International Storytelling Festival as a great opportunity for growth and exchange with many experienced purveyors of the word.
Jeeva Raghunath (India) Not only does Jeeva tell stories, she is also a teacher, writer and inspirational speaker. Beginning at the tender age of five, her inimitable style has consistently garnered kudos from excited audiences across the world. She is the prop in her stories; her style involves the animated and dramatic keeping of the audience spellbound.
Jeeva is a trilingual virtuoso storyteller who has successfully worked with children across the world for the most part of her adult life. She disarmingly tells stories in French, English and Tamil - a regional Indian language. Highly reputed in India, her repertoire includes a range of Indian and Asian & European folk tales, family & true-life, cross-culture and modern stories. The 53 year old’s professional experience spans four nations from India to Singapore, Malaysia and the USA. She has authored several children’s books besides translating 17 books from English into Tamil.
Some of Jeeva’s her works include Malli, a bi-lingual book in Tamil and EnglishGadagada Gudugudu, in Tamil and Kasakasa parapara, a book in verse based on the Tamil tertiary letters. Jeeva has also produced some audio tapes and DVDs; Stories from India with Roger Jenkins-Drama plus arts-Singapore and Tales of child devotees among others. The graduate from Madras University has taught in several schools and is internationally known as a tutor, facilitator, mentor, motivational speaker, author and animator who makes use of stories and the art of storytelling in corporate business contexts, communication skills training, language development, marketing, public speaking presentation skills and therapeutic processes.
She is a founder member of the World Storytelling Institute – Chennai. Sigana International Storytelling Festival (SISF) marks her first performance visit to the African continent.
Actor and improviser Love Ersare brings the audience into his world when he tells stories; he gives them influence over it! His work with the theatre company Skuggteatern based in Umeå, Sweden has seen him develop skills in method acting, physical, improvised and interactive theatre. Ersare’s storytelling technique involves the physical and interactive with completely improvised performances, where stories evolve from beginning to end based on audience suggestions.
He tells stories from around the world, African myth, uncensored Grimm tales and Swedish mystique, often with a personal twist and a feminist approach. He also works with musicians and other artists to synchronise his performances. This teller who is one of the young stars of Swedish storytelling is also chairman of “Berättarnätet Sverige” the Swedish Storytelling Network.
Mats Rehnman is making his second coming to the festival. A co-founder of Sweden’s and leading Scandinavian storytelling collective known as Fabula Storytelling, Mats has been at the centre of continental Europe’s over decade long revival movement of the art of Storytelling. It is a joy to experience Mat’s spellbinding telling. Often underpinned with wit, surprise discoveries, adventure, twists and real life fantasies, his presentations paints a world so real, immediate and unnervingly welcoming! His vivid rendition belies Mats’ background as a professional visual artist whose first love was the canvas and sculpturing. He tells with the air of a comfortable master, a familiar uncle, sure with his many years of lived experience, sharp memory, sublime details – all hanging on his canvas of a face that conjures up myriads of emotions and living pictures. His entire body and freefalling words bring to life another world that invites listeners to participant along as co-travelers.
Mats repertoire is a tour-de-force across the folklore of many cultures in all the continents of the world. On his lips, old Viking seafarer tales give way to Sufi mystical stories from the orient extending further to Chinese legends across the ages. In this second return to Sigana International Storytelling Festival, Mats shall share part of his vast collection of world tales while keeping his ears firmly on the ground for the African lore.
Mshai embodies the very development of contemporary practice of Storytelling in Eastern Africa. She virtually inspired and grew up with it over the last 21 years becoming its leading exponent across the world. Mshai tells her pieces with passion, always locking up her audiences in critical interactive engagements that creatively dislocate the linearity of performer-listener dichotomies. Her involving style packages song, movement, banter, enactment, narration into complex commentary bundles delivered with disarming charm, simplicity and novelty typical of a vastly skillful and experienced raconteur.
Mshai is a consummate performer-scholar with a doctorate in performance studies from Chicago’s University of Northwestern, USA. She has studied, written and performed her own treatises centered on the contemporary confluence between socio-cultural dynamics and the act of storytelling - in all its diversities. As an educationist, researcher, cultural leader, trainer, inspirational speaker, Africanist, Mshai confesses that Storytelling is what provides her with a continuous navigational thread across her multiple roles and identities.
She has journeyed and presented innumerable performances to worldwide audiences in Australia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Now settled at home, Mshai looks forward to unveiling part of her new story repertoire during the 2010 Sigana International Storytelling Festival.
Susan has been telling stories to children since she was in her teens, which is quite a long time ago now! After many years of practicing the art with children, as a kindergarten and primary teacher, she took it to the Nairobi stage with her first public performance at the Phoenix Theatre in 2001. Since then she has entertained many an audience with her renditions of African folk tales, in schools, at weddings and parties, around camp-fires at night, as well as at several public venues in town. Her performance is driven by the belief that "Stories cross boundaries, touching the heart and drawing people together. A good story, well told, is an enriching experience for both teller and listener."