Liboi’s Multidisciplinary Show ‘Whispers of Power’ Explores Meaning Beyond the Artist’s

I received an invite from one of my contacts to attend an EP listening party at Kamunge Original Studios in November 2022. A student at the time, I wanted to ‘milk’ the opportunity. At the time, one of my class projects required me to provide media coverage for an out-of-school event. Excited to be part of this, I invited my friends to help me with videography and photography.

This is how I first met Liboi, an African contemporary artist. While providing coverage that would later be used as a class project, I fell in love with the uniqueness of her voice, and therich African sound tucked in her music. Her EP, State of Being, carried varied emotions, a woman’s perspective on the search for paradise and freedom in an African context.

Fast forward to October 2023: Liboi invited my team to provide videography services for her debut multidisciplinary show, “Whispers of Power,” held at Ardhi Gallery, Nairobi. This event, a first for many, attracted music enthusiasts and cultural aficionados from Nairobi and beyond.

From the outset, the performance immersed us in its narrative. Liboi’s vocals painted the story, while Maulid Owino brought it to life through dance. Between performances, Wakio Mzenge solidified the narrative with captivating storytelling. The artworks adorning Ardhi Gallery’s walls further enriched the experience, making “Whispers of Power” a stunning feast for the senses.

Following the successful Nairobi showcase, the show embarked on a tour, with Kisumu as its first stop. Backed by the French Government’s Creation Africa-Kenya project, the Kisumu edition promised to be bigger and better. Though not in the same capacity, I spent a week with the team as they prepared for the show, which took place on Friday, May 24, 2024.

The team set up camp at Dunga Hill Camp, where they honed their craft, refining the script, adjusting elements, and boosting each other’s morale. Their collaborative spirit was evident. For instance, Maulid Owino, the contemporary dancer who collaborated with other dancers in Nairobi, now partnered with Kisumu’s own talent, Pretty Lodenyi. This ensured the Kisumu performance resonated more deeply with local audiences, particularly in light of the recent floods that had devastated the region. Recognizing the need for a storyteller with a deeper understanding of Luo culture, the team brought Mary Zaffy on board, whose insights helped bring the story closer to home. Additionally, Liboi’s band expanded to include Brian Mufana, a gifted musician from Kisumu.

Wakio Mzenge’s masterful storytelling further shaped the love story of Thuolo and Teko, the central characters of “Whispers of Power.” As they narrated the story while exploring Dunga Hill Camp, Maulid Owino and Pretty Ludenyi translated the words into powerful visuals through dance. This, coupled with the evocative use of light to create mood transitions and enhance the visual appeal, fostered a deeply immersive experience for the audience, who actively participated in shaping the story’s meaning. While all this helped shape the story, on the main stage, Liboi, with the help of her band of the day; Komora (Guitar, Music Director & additional vocals), Collins Obwar (Percussions), Salome Waithera (Additional vocals), Brian Mufana (Guitar, Flute & Additional vocals), she brought haarmony to the story, adding an allure of a rich African vibe.

Liboi’s background in film and journalism proved invaluable. She skillfully complemented her own artistry with the expertise of other creatives. Witnessing the convergence of these diverse art forms to create such an impactful story was truly inspiring. Just like the Nairobi edition, the Kisumu performance was a spectacular display of the interconnectedness of art forms. The meaning of art, after all, extends beyond the artist; it’s a collaborative journey where the audience actively shapes the narrative to make it their own, as witnessed in Whispers of Power.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting its fading orange glow on Lake Victoria, our star-crossed lovers shared a romantic moment on a boat. The story ended on another stage, where they were married and shared a celebratory dance. The closing songs were infectious, inciting the crowd into a frenzy, creating an electrifying “amka tukatike” moment. The audience demanded an encore, begging for just one more song, one more dance.

Liboi will be staging Whispers of Power in Nairobi’s Sarakasi Dome on Saturday, 8th June. The event is free of charge for all lovers of art, culture and music. With the Nairobi edition, Liboi’s team wishes to explore themes like urbanization, mental health and environmental conservation.

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