Last Saturday, 23rd April was the inaugural POWO event - a forum for Poets and Writers that seeks to encourage Kenyan Creative writers to exploit the various opportunities presented by their internet for promotion of their writing.The event which was held at Nairobi's hub for the tech and creative community, the iHub.
It was also a 'Meet up' that sought to bring together Kenyan Creative writers be they writers of fiction, non fiction, poetry, prose with the common goal being their interest in using the internet.Most of those who signed up for thefreeevent already had blogs and was a surprise to note just how many creative bloggers were in Kenya -Well over 50.
The event, though set to start at 11.30, started slightly late(12pm) due to lack of early risers being the start of the Easter Holiday. Early arrivals were treated to some African Music then Videos by Kenya's own Mike Kwambo with the poem'Big *** Bed' and Chimamanda Adichie's'The danger of a single story' that was originally shared with the TED crowd.
The event kicked off with Ndanu Mung'ala - MC for the day, welcoming all in attendance and inviting Njeri Wangari for the opening remarks. ThenNjeri read a quote from one of the speaker's earlier blog post, Njoroge Matathia. A quote that has also been shared on this blog from his post 'Made on the Internet' (one can read the full article here). She went on to explain the idea behind the POWO concept with sneak picks into what should be expected in future. She shared her experience in the challenge that most creative writers face - getting published and went on to talk about the opportunities the internet gives event towards eventually getting a publisher was the case with the eventual publishing of her poetry collection.
The Day's speakers had arrived with the exception of Joseph Mucheru who sent his apologies due to a last minute commitment. He did however send us Neil Ahlsten - New Business Development Sub-Saharan Africa. The other speakers were, Wamathai, Potash and performance by Muki Garang.
After the opening remarks, the first speaker, Neil gave a short presentation on the opportunities available on Google's platform for creative writers e.g Google blogspot- the blogging platform, analytics for traffic statistics, Google books, YouTube among others. The presentation was quite brief and some attendees felt that there were more products that could have been discussed in detail.
There was fast internet and most of those at the event had come along with their gadgets. Most freely shared their views as well as update those who missed on the ongoing events. The event's hastag was#POWO. This also proved to be a good icebreaker for the meetup that was to follow after the talks.
Muki Garang the Performer at the event gave a unique performance with his poetry piece 'People's TV 101, Njeri has written about it earlier in her review of the Jukwaani Festival.
Wamathai, who contrary to popular belief is quite slim, soft spoken and can sometimes get nervous infront of a large crowd. His presentation on how Wamathai the blog started was quite an eye opener and honest critique. His story on how he got kicked out of FB due to too many female fans was quite fascinating.
The last speaker of the day was Potash (Njoroge Matathia). His intellect was too imposing and some got lost as he reminded writers not to be caught up in all the digital hype forgetting what their purpose is; Inform, Entertain and Educate. He also offered to engage anyone willing to get further details on a one-on-one or read his material which would deliver more oomph.
During the Q&A session, most sought to know how they can drive more traffic to their blogs, if its necessary to be on Twitter always, anonymous blogging as well as on soulful entertainment. Wamathai, in his answer to the use of twitter gave thought provoking challenge "Tweet Sense, not NonSense".
Writers were also treated to some videos by;Miceere Mugo at the 2010 Kwani Litfest, Def Poetry Gemini with the piece 'Poetic Bloodline' as well as Ngwatilo with her poem'Two Clocks'. In her closing remarks, Njeri gave the next meetup's agenda- A more hands-on tech workshop on the various tools available for writers online from; how to start a blog, how to embed a video or a html code, how to upload a video, using FB and Twitter effectively etc.
The Next POWO Meet-up will be on 21st May at the same venue.