As far as thespian talent is concerned in Nakuru County, just a mention of the word Elementaita may not ring a bell.
Many residents of the cosmopolitan county may associate the term Elementaita with tourism because of Lake Elementaita.
But the region will soon become the next hotbed of thespian talent, thanks to a group of five entrepreneurs who want to transform the region into a home of theatre.
The group, Elementaita Residence Owners Association (EROA) comprises 10 members. Among the best actors is Rachel Stephanie Akinyi, 28, who goes by the stage name Spontaneous.
Other group members who are rocking the stage include Shikanga Shiboko (Shikkiey) 25, Erick Ngugi Mwangi, 26, whose stage name is Gugz, Juliet Akinyi, 28 (Wen_Music) and James Karanja, 26, whose stage name is Toonhood.
The group was formed by Mr Ihara Kihara who is also its chairperson. His vision is to create an artistic city outside Nakuru town. Since Elementaita is sandwiched between lakes Nakuru and Elementaita, it would form an ideal stopover for tourists to sample the local artistic talents.
“His vision is to start an artistic city that can serve as a model to other cities and be a centre of festivals to bring people together to experience various culture and networking,” says Ms Shiboko who is a fourth year Law student at University of Nairobi.
She says many actors are not earning from their talents because of poor policies and non-involvement of the artists in the policy making.
“Some of the laws and policies we have in this country are retrogressive and [they] limit the artists from progressing. It is time they were reviewed,” said Ms Shiboko.
During a workshop for stakeholders on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) 2005 convention and the Unesco International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) held in Nakuru on March 9-10, the group thrilled participants with their poetic and musical artistry.
Spontaneous the poet recited a piece entitled bora uhai which left the more than 70 participants yearning for more.
It takes big wigs to die out of cancer for government to do something.
It takes the drowning of a woman and a daughter in Indian Ocean for government to do something
It takes a three-months-old baby to die out of extra judicial killing for the government to stop something
It takes 29 to be buried in a landslide for the government to finish something
It takes thousands to die out of hunger and starvation for the government to accept something
And we out here are walking, chatting bora uhai... bora uhai… are you uhai?
Mr Ngugi who plays drum says: “We want to turn Elementaita into an art city. We want to make a vibrant modern urban culture centre outside Nakuru town by bringing more life into sleepy and dusty township of Elementaita.”
Ms Akinyi, 28, says she is in the group to push the theatre agenda forward in Elementaita.
“We want to create a space for art expression and raise the spirit of theatre to spread all over Elementaita like a bush fire,” said Ms Akinyi.
She said talented and upcoming actors should be given room to exploit their skills.
“We cannot all fit at Nakuru Players Theatre but with devolution taking root, the youth could earn more from their talents if we have systems where residents could come for quality artistic expression including plays, poems, music and drama among others,” said Ms Akinyi.
Mr Karanja who is a poet and comedian, says as Nakuru prepares to become a city, there is need for massive investment in art.
“Artists must make a living out of their talents and the city status should be an added advantage,” said Mr Karanja.
He faulted the county government for importing performing artists from Nairobi while ignoring homegrown artists whenever there are major events in the county.
“The county should also invest in a recording studio where artists are charged subsidised fees to record their performances and this will encourage more artists to exploit their talents,” added Mr Karanja.