Christopher Okemwa is a poet, actor, dancer, playwright, story-teller, short-story and children’s writer.
Christopher Okemwa is the winner of 2015 Burt Award for African Literature (Kenya). On 25th Sept. 2015, at Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel Nairobi, his novella, Sabina and the Mystery of the Ogre, won him a certificate and cash prize of 9, 000 Canadian dollars (Ksh. 765, 000) and a payment of Khs. 153, 900 from his publisher.
He graduated from Kamagambo Teachers’ Training College and has taught for several years in Kenya. He later graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Education degree, specializing in English and Literature. He also holds an MA degree in literature from the same University. His doctoral study at Moi University in Kenya focuses on the ‘Literary-Gangster’ Performance Poetry in Kenya. He currently teaches Creative Writing at Kisii University, Kenya.
He has published three collections of poetry: Toxic Love (2004, Watermark, USA), The Gong (2009, Nsemia Inc. Publishers, Canada) and a bilingual (French/English) poetry collection Purgatorius Ignis (2015, Poesie Premiere-Online). He has also authored and published three collections of children’s stories: The Village Queen, The Visitor at the Gate, and Let Us Keep Tiger (2010, Paulines Africa). The latter was nominated for Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in 2011. Okemwa has also published a collection of adult short-stories, Chubot, the Cursed One and Other Stories. His Oral Literature text, Riddles of the Abagusii People of Kenya: Gems of Wisdom from the African Continent was also published in 2011. His other oral literature text, The Proverbs of the Abagusii of Kenya: Meaning & Application was published in 2012. In 2014, Okemwa rolled out a series of twelve titles of Abagusii folktales, namely Ogasusu na Oganchogu, Ogasusu na Okanyang’au, Ogasusu na Okanyambu, Ogasusu na Egetondo, Okabaki na Okanyambobe, Okang’ombe na Ogasimba, Ogasusu na Abana B’Oganchogu, Kerangeti na Kerantina, Nyamege na Omoiseke Omonda, Getiro na Rirabwoni, Abamura Batato and Omoiseke Omonyakieni.
Okemwa is well known as a playwright and an actor. He has scripted and presented at Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festivals award-winning plays and poems. He was sponsored by the National Operatic & Dramatic Association of England to attend and participate in a theatre course, held at Churchill Hall, University of Bristol, from 20th to the 27th July 1991, where all aspects of theatre techniques---including voice, improvisation, text appreciation, stage management, dancing etc.—were studied.
In the same year he was again a student at the Association’s Technical Summer School, held at King Alfred’s College, Winchester, from 27th July to 3rd August 1991. In this school he studied all aspects of technical theatre---including stage management, lighting, properties, set construction etc. --- with the emphasis on the management of resources.
In addition to the acquisition of theatre skills, Okemwa is also a respected drama and literary critic who has published numerous articles in the dailies, journals and newsletters.
Okemwa is most reputed as an international performance poet. He attended a poetry workshop in Northern Ireland in 1993 sponsored by Poets’ House. For three weeks he wrote and studied poetry under distinguished Irish and American poets.
In 2010 he attended XX International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia, where he performed poems from his two poetry books. In 2012 he was a guest poet at the 27th Biennale Poetry Festival in Liege, Belgium. Okemwa is the founder and current director of Kistrech International Poetry Festival in Kenya, whose inaugural edition was in 2013.
Okemwa has won several awards in poetry: In 2002 he won an Editor’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry, presented by the International Library of Poetry. In 2006 he won Changamoto Arts Fund award of KES. 76,000 for the performance of his poetry in Secondary Schools in Kenya. In 2015 his novella, Sabina and the Mystery of the Ogre won the prestigious Burt Award for African Literature. The award came with a certificate and prize money of Ksh. 918,900 (765,000 from the award and 153, 900 from the publisher).
Although I knew the story of my novella, Sabina and the Mystery of the Ogre, was good, I wasn’t...
Sponsored by Poets House directors—Janice Fitzpatrick and James Simmons—I attended the...
In 1991, NODA (National Operatic & Dramatic Association) of England arranged for me to visit...
I attended and participated at the XX International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia, from...
I was invited to attend the 27th International Biennial of Poetry that took place in the Congress...
Burt Award (KENYA) for African Literature
Changamoto Arts Fund award.
Editor’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry.
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