As it turns out, the feeling of love I had for SHOFCO was mutual! After the graduation ceremony last year, I got asked back to do a writing workshop with the girls at the Kibera School during their holiday program.
Having made some friends during my first visit, I was really eager to go back and hear how things have changed after the first set of girls has graduated, the former year 7 girls are now the most senior, and life after KSG has become a tangible reality rather than just ‘the future’.
I was also quite keen to share my love of literature with the girls, find out who and what they loved reading, and do some writing together. (I discovered last year that many of the KSG girls are powerful poets and performers, but I had no idea what their longer-form narrative-style work would look like.)
I know I always talk about KSG in superlatives, but this really was a fantastic experience. The girls in the workshop were about 10 – 14 years old (grade 4 to grade 8), and the level of talent, ingenuity and humour was amazing. We reworked some of our favourite fairy tales, created and performed original pieces, wrote in groups and as individuals, talked about Nollywood (Mercy Johnson is a big star in KSG!), jumped rope, and just had an all-around unforgettable time.
The range of stories produced was also really stunning; there was some very well-developed horror-mystery stuff from some girls in grade 4, some suspenseful dialogue from girls in grade 8; some cheeky poetry from grade 6 girls and the most imaginative self-love advocacy I’ve ever seen in a fairy tale from a grade 5 group
I particularly enjoyed sharing the work of African literary icons like Tsitsi Dangarembga, Warsan Shire and Chimamanda Adichie with the older girls. Their mischief, warmth and thirst for knowledge made the days fly by, and by the end of my week with them I was sad to leave. I promised I’d be back next year, and I certainly hope to keep that promise.