When I first met Victor he was wearing a very dapper bow tie and a smile that could light up even the darkest room. It was my first time in Nairobi, and my first trip to Mathare. Victor was the youth group leader of Maji Mazuri. We started talking and I quickly learned that this young man was a poet. His friends spoke so highly of his poetry, and Victor began to tell me about his passion for writing and vocalizing through poetry. To say I was enamored would be an understatement. I was in awe of this young mans dedication to his craft, and his unwavering love for his peers and for the younger children at the Maji Mazuri schools. He shared his gift openly, and continues to teach the youngsters writing skills, grammar, and poetry. Maji Mazuri is a one of a kind organization. It is grass roots and run with love and a compassion that runs so incredibly deep it is palpable. The best part is that you get to meet people that have been part of this organization since childhood, who benefited from the programs they provide, the education they give, and have discovered their passion and talent despite hardship. Mathare is the most dangerous slum in East Africa, and one of the largest. But beyond being a statistic it is a place filled with life, talent, and clear as day brilliance. From artisans, to writers, to mathematicians and future doctors. Maji Mazuri helps people reach their goals and accomplish their dreams. They help people raise themselves out of poverty and go on to help others do the same. Victor is a beacon of hope, an inspiration to so many. Victor and a wonderful friend of his Kevin Ajode allowed me the honor of creating a poetry and photography book showcasing their work. It is entitled Sweet Waters. If you are interested in purchasing a copy please contact me. I will forward a link to you where you can directly purchase the book. It is poignant and moving. Proceeds go to both Authors, and a percentage straight back to Maji Mazuri. I promise it will be a favorite for years to come! I am so thrilled to be able to share Victors story with you, and have you get to know this amazing man on a deeper level.
How did you start writing poetry? What inspired you to write, what continues to inspire?
I was a youth leader of Maji Mazuri youth group. As leadership dictates, I had to do much talking but never was this to go over well with some of my peers. There was this time that one of the donors from Holland was going back home so I had to prepare a farewell speech. I decided to do something different and this was to express my speech in form of a poem. This was the first time that I ever thought of doing a poem! The poem got a good reception not only from the donor but my peers too. This was how I started writing poems. I embarked on writing about the organization and Mathare through poetry. The positive side of Mathare which is one of the slums in Nairobi is what inspired me to write poetry! I wanted the world to know that Mathare too is a place to belong contrary to what slums are known for. The talent that the youth have in Mathare is what inspires me to do more poems. Being that ambassador is what inspires me most. I'm glad too that I mentored one of my peers in the group to expose his poetry.
Where are you from in Kenya?
Kenya has 42 tribes. I'm from the Gusii tribe and I reside with my parents in Nairobi the capital city.
Do you have a favorite memory from childhood?
When I was playing I lost my sandals inside the sand and it took me half a day to only get one out of the pair. Never have I found the other sandal to date.
What role did Maji Mazuri play in your life?
Maji Mazuri gave me the platform to realize my leadership skills. It exposed me to more people and I got to understand Mathare well. It exposed me to lots of mentorship programs.
Are you working on any new writing pieces?
I have written some poems in Swahili and have shared them with children from HEAD START primary school which is under Maji Mazuri. The poems "shairi" are in a bid to improve their grammar since they're in the best Swahili.
If you could take a photograph of your mind and imagination what do you think it would look like?
The photograph would have a background of a horizon a symbol of hope in the future and beautiful things to come.
What are your biggest dreams in life?
My dream is that I will be a well-known poet.
What does writing do for your soul?
Writing has changed me a great deal, I once was this boy who talked a lot but now I balance the talking and to me this is healing to the soul.
Do you have a favorite author or poet?
William Shakespeare is my favorite
If you could spend the day with anyone alive or passed, who would you choose to spend your time with?
Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela had a great Heart for humanity I would like to spend time with both of them.
Can you share a poem you have written that you love to share with us?
Early in the morning I am up
Yesterdays left over makes my breakfast
I assemble my utensils to clean them up; the taps are dry
Something is always wrong in the atmosphere, authorities care less
I never mind lunch, I'd rather mind of supper
Tough times comes in handy; they never hold us down
Without knowing, evening comes knocking, we still keeping the faith
When day comes to night; we reach for an extra dime
Our mind are ever engaged, the best is yet to come
Most of us have no time for negative energy
We preserve positive energy for another day
Some of us make it big; the ghetto is always at heart
Our hamlets will some time make a town
We shall then talk of a different story all together
Men here work hard the best way they know how
Women put up small enterprises for subsidies
To the little of our knowledge, people like our story
Thank you for listening to part of our story.