- Category: PA 2008
Bantu Mwaura was an award winning performing artist, director, playwright, storyteller, poet and university lecturer from Kenya. He was also a political and human rights activist and a cultural theorist who has worked mostly with civil society using theatre and performance in human rights and developmental work.
Bantu's poetry was published in several journals and anthologies in English, Kiswahili and Gikuyu. He was commissioned by organisations such as the World Council of Churches and the World Social Forum to write and perform poetry in international fora, performing poetry and spoken word in Europe, the United States and several countries in Africa. In Kenya, Bantu appeared in the monthly poetry slams organised by Kwani?,the leading East-African based literary magazine. Bantu was part of the Poetry Africa programme at the World Social Forum in Nairobi in 2007. He also taught poetry, storytelling and playwriting in different universities in Kenya and the United States and his plays have been performed in Kenya, Zimbabwe, the USA and the UK.
Bantu's poetry focused mainly on social and political issues, examining how society was ordered and how socio-economic and political issues impacted on the advancement of society at large. In doing so his poetry was principally concerned with examining the African continent, its politics, its history and its place in the international arena.
Bantu undertook his PhD in Performance Studies at the New York University and also had a Masters degree in Theatre Studies from Leeds University (UK) and another Masters in African-American and African Studies from the Ohio State University (USA). His research was largely focused on examining how performance theory interfaces with theatre practice in Africa, how culture impacts and has been impacted upon by real politics, and on the politics of performance space.
Bantu was also the founding editor and editor-inchief of Jahazi – a journal on the arts, culture and performance.