The Play

The Story

Tales of the Accidental City is a play about four residents of Nairobi who find themselves stuck together in a three-day anger management class after being accused by the courts of various misdemeanors. Diana, Jacinda, Louis Njoroge, and Sarah Obama must explain what got them there, and with the help of their quirky counsellor Rose, find a way to heal the wounds inflicted on them by life in the crazy city of Nairobi.

The Journey

The play is the result of an artistic journey through writing, theatre, audio and film.

In 2019, eight Nairobi-based writers got together to write a collection of stories inspired by their city. The collection sought to explore Nairobi 120 years after its ‘creation’. Once a seasonal swamp on the edge of a forest that was not meant to be more than a railway depot for people and goods on their way elsewhere, Nairobi is today home to over four million people. A throbbing city where lives are swallowed up and spat out again, a place where dreams collide, where people come to run away from the ghosts of their pasts – some finding respite others carrying their demons with them. Through this portrait of Nairobi, the authors tell the story of many African cities challenged by population growth, economic disparities and social injustice.

The original intention of the writers was to publish the stories in an anthology. In the meantime, playwright Maïmouna Jallow , whose work centers on creating access to African literature by adapting short stories and novels into staged performances, worked with four of the stories to create a new play – Tales of the Accidental City. Using characters and storylines from the works of Sitawa Namwalie , Kevin Mwachiro and Margaret Muthee , as well as her own story in the collection, she also adapted the play into a 90-minute audio drama in three parts, and unexpectedly, into a screen play. Unable stage the play in theatres and community spaces around Nairobi as planned because of Covid-19 restrictions, Maïmouna decided to go experimental, using Zoom as the stage. In came Director of Photography and Editor Faith Musembi , who helped the play take on a new life as a 50-minute Zoom film that merges film and theatre. The result is a true celebration of literary and performance art, as well as a testament to adaptability!

Tales of the Accidental City is written and directed by Maïmouna Jallow.
It is based on these stories:

Finding Home by Margaret Muthee

Black Paint by Sitawa Namwalie

Banana Jam by Kevin Mwachiro

God is my Witness by Maïmouna Jallow

A Positively African production, supported by grants from the
African Publishers Innovation Fund and the African Culture Fund.

Connect with us

We’d love to
hear from you

Maïmouna Jallow

Maïmouna is a storyteller, editor, playwright and director. In 2018 she received the Sanaa Theatre Award for Best Narrative Theatre for her adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, which she toured internationally. Maïmouna is also the editor of Story Story, Story Come - a collection of 12 re-imagined folktales from across Africa (Pavaipo/Ouida Books 2018). In 2019, she published a children’s book in collaboration with Book Dash, entitled I am the Colour of Honey” on identity. She is the writer and director of Tales of the Accidental City.

Sitawa Namwalie

Sitawa Namwalie is an award winning Kenyan poet, playwright and performer known for her unique dramatized poetry performances which combine poetry and traditional Kenyan music. “Cut off My Tongue,” her first performance was performed in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and at the Hay Festival 2009. In 2010 “Cut off my Tongue” was selected by the Sundance Theatre Lab in the first East African Sundance Lab held on Manda Island. Sitawa’s growing body of work includes dramatized poetry productions and plays, “Homecoming” (2010), “Silence is a Woman”, (2014), “Black Maria on Koinange Street” and “Room of Lost Names” (2015), “Taking my Father Home” (2020). Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and publications including; “Reflections: An Anthology of New Work by African Women Poets”. Anthonia C. Kalu, Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi, and Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka, editors 2013.

Kevin Mwachiro

Kevin Mwachiro is a writer, journalist, podcaster, and queer activist. Kevin’s first book is, Invisible – Stories from Kenya’s Queer Community. He was part of the editorial team for Boldly Queer - African Perspectives on Same-sex sexuality and gender diversity. His first play, Trashed was published in the anthology Six in the City – Six Short Plays on Nairobi and his poems are published in the Pan African queer anthology, Walking the Tightrope.   His most recent work is the short story, Number Sita is that is published in the anthology, Nairobi Noir.  In 2017 he launched a story-telling podcast, called Nipe Story, which produces audio versions of short-story fictional stories from the African continent. Working in collaboration with the Gay Kenya Trust and the Goethe Institut – Nairobi, Kevin is a co-founder of the Out Film Festival which is the first LGBTQI film festival in East Africa. Kevin currently serves on the board of the LGBQ coalition, Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya – GALCK and Amnesty International- Kenya.

Margaret Muthee

Margaret Muthee is a trained journalist and writer working and living in Kenya. She is an upcoming African writer who has been part of various writing events across the region. She is part of the Amka Literary Forum. She was part of the 2015 Writivism Workshop and later a mentorship program that saw her under the mentorship of Richard Ali (Nigeria). Other workshops she has attended include Story Moja and the Miles Morland Workshop (July 2017). Her short stories have been published by One Throne Magazine, Lawino Magazine, Brittle Paper, and Bahati books which published the short story collection, A Season for Mending. In 2019, Margaret was part of the team that organized the Macondo Literary Festival. She is keen on developing her creative writing skills and hopes to get more published in the future.

Faith Musembi

Director of Photograph and Video Editor

 

Faith Musembi is a filmmaker with a deep affection for masterful storytelling through motion pictures. She has crafted award winning films including CHUMA, Underwater Treasures and Salt Water Survivors. Her documentary films aim to educate about the natural world, while including local communities as experts in their own narratives. Her narrative fiction films showcase the beauty and complexity of the African continent’s collective past and present. Faith currently plies her tried as the creative force behind Faimus Films based in Nairobi, where she is in constant pursuit of the wedded bliss evoked by the perfect marriage of the written word, moving images and sound.