Author Tony Mochama, in commenting on Adipo Sidang’s poetry collection Parliament of Owls, called him the “new emperor hooting the naked truth”. Only that Sidang’ is not that new, having spent 16 years writing 250 poems, 140 of which finally made it into the 280-page book published by Contact Zones.
Contextually, though, Mochama was right. And the question on everyone’s lips, especially those who have read Parliament of Owls, is: Where has Sidang’ been all these years?
“I was a literary monk cloistered in my quiet world of writing,” he says. Very few words for a man who started writing at 16.
As his poetry was marinating, Sidang’ was busy pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Urbaniana University, Rome, and later a Master of Arts in Philosophy (area of research Epistemology) at the University of Nairobi. The student then became a teacher of philosophy at his alma mater, the University of Nairobi, resigning in 2016 to pursue other interests.
These other interests included founding the Agora Theatre group, which gave birth to its firstborn child: a play, Parliament of Owls, which was staged at the Kenya National Theatre on June 24.
“We recorded the performances and we plan to go to different counties and play the videos to different audiences. We also hope to discover talent in the various counties through having different acts ‘curtain-raise’ before screening,” he says.
This way, he believes, he will have done his bit in nurturing talent in the literary industry.
Sidang’ funded the play himself, as he believes that it is high time that theatre-goers got treated to more than just the slapstick and tragicomedy plays that they are accustomed to.
Sidang’ acted in the play as Royal Owl and was the assistant director. It starred Dennis Lugendo as Money Bags Owl, Evelyne Mutanu (Oyundi, the Fire-finch) and Eva Akinyi (Iron Lady Owl).
The play, a political satire, addressed corruption, political leadership, justice, tribalism and social ills.
It was directed by renowned director and University of Nairobi lecturer Kimingichi Wabende.
LOVE AFFAIR WITH POETRY BEGINS
The former seminarian, who is also agnostic (a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God) began his love affair with poetry as a 16-year-old high school student penning “massive missives” on behalf of his fellow students who wanted to impress a damsel or two with their lyrical prowess.
The book’s prologue has lines from some of these over decade-old poems, as in the poem "These Works of Mine", where he writes:
Some were mass