Ngwatilo: Puesic she said

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January 21, 2011 – Puesic is what they call it – a Kenyan creation by a lady who has known her artistic side all her life.

It could also be called an expression created to merge the different types of art, i.e., music and poetry; in a distinctly Kenyan way.

If you have heard of Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, you are probably feeling some grudging respect right now, but if you haven’t you might be wondering what kind of name that is.

She floats when she walks, has a semi-coloured afro, a wide smile and a look you can’t read, but when she opens her mouth to Puesic that is all inconsequential.

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With near perfect sound control courtesy of St Lawrence University in upstate New York, Ngwatilo sings and chants and fights battles with words.

In her mid twenties, Ngwatilo – pronounced NGWA-tilo – has studied music, voice control, political science, kwaito, Caribbean literature, English literature, and creative writing, among others.

“I used to write songs before, and sing in the choir as well. But when I was in Uni my lecturer loved my writing and encouraged me to study creative writing; and many other things. And I did,” she tells Capital Lifestyle.

“I also went to learn Kwaito in South Africa as part of an exchange programme that we had at our school,” says the poet.

Ngwatilo has always been creative and artistic and very drawn to poetic influences. When she returned to Kenya a couple of years back, she had a lot of zeal to share her creativity and her words, her thoughts, but how?

“I came up with the Puesic Project and had some friends of mine help me out on it. Before it came together in about 2006, I wondered how a poem can be expressed in all these arts – voice, dance, guitarist – and with help from some folk who were in a band, I came up with something.

Here’s an example…of which she says: “there’s the earliest example I did in Kenya – Jan 2008. That was produced entirely by me – no real instruments or whatever. I released it free to the universe back when things were really sour in Kenya.”

 

Ngwatilo almost gave up at some point, but Kenyans then started to appreciate what she was trying to offer.

“It’s not easy. You need to have another job to keep the money coming in. But I now have more and more shows lined up and it looks promising.”

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