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Featured Poet – Grandmaster Masese

Our next featured poet Grand Master Masese got a standing ovation when he performed during the March Rhythm & Spoken with his Obokano. He has performed at the Sauti Ya Busara festival in Zanzibar, Hay Festival UK Kwani open mic and various other stages.

How would you describe your poetry?

My poetry is contemporary,it is life,it is music, a story that is always waiting to be told in words,rhythms and words in silence

You also make use of the traditional Kisii instrument Obokano, how did you come about it?

Yes, I do.I learnt at the age of ten at a relatives home and it became my obsession after.and now i use it to do folk music and poetry to……….

In what way has it enhanced your performance?

It has given the performances the variety and a kind of uniqueness that is only true to GRAND masese.i call it GRAND brings the whole art in poetry and covers a cross section of the audience as well.

What’s your creative process like?

It involves listening to my inner self,observing my surrounding,listening to people and discussing hence I get the whole picture,then i put it down when am alone in the poetic world.then i think of the best way to present it and to who,why,etc

Which poets do you look up to?

I like Okot p’ Bitek and great East African poets from the 60s,American contemporary poets,Tony Mochama,Ukoo Flani Mau Mau poets,Rumi,Shaaban Bin Roberts and many more

Where have you performed and what has been the reception so far?

I have performed in Nairobi in Kwani? and Wapi since they started,from 2005,Italian Institut,Goethe Institut, KNT, Molo, Kisumu, Kisii.Internationally I have performed in Ghana and the UK.The reception has been great and overwhelming.I have been humbled by the occassional standing ovations and also criticism here and there.

What do you hope to achieve through poetry? Who do you hope to influence?

I hope to help make poetry become a notable literary voice in East Afrika so that it is not overlooked.It has to engage and reward the poets as other forms of art.i hope to advocate for more poetry publications.hope to publish my poetry volumes in Kisii,Kiswahili,Sheng and English.I want to influence everybody who can read and write or listen to poetry.

What do you think is the future of poetry in Kenya and Africa?

There is a great future for poetry in kenya but I think the rest of Africa is ahead.The problem with Kenya is that people havent known what is poetry and what is not.not everything is poetry and that you dont have the outside influence to be cool.Originality in Kenya is questionable.The fact that not much of poetry books are published in Kenya just tells how far behind we are.

What do you wish to see done differently?

Poets need workshops all the time to ensure quality because now there is quantity which might compromise Quality,competitions and prizes,Poetry has to be able to join what they call celeb thing in the local papers,i mean to be regarded highly as any trash(sic) that is in Genge/kapuka.publish poets and let them get established

Which of you poems is a crowd favourite? Which is your favourite?

The crowd favourite should be Letter From My Girlfriend although there could be many and my favourite is Mo Pain,No Gain

Five lines off your favourite piece/ a sample of your poetry…

..I know you will say this is the voice of treason
But I say No,this is the voice of Kenyan reason
Hii ni voice yangu na meditation za revolution
naanza na kuondoa confusion,
watasema nawa threaten ama na threaten peace ya wakenya watukufu wenye mioyo mikunjufu…………,


About projectheshima

Project Heshima is an alternative events project . We have a great interest in poetry and home grown music. We hold monthly poetry nights at

One response to “Featured Poet – Grandmaster Masese

  1. I love this spoken rhythm. I overwhelmed by the immense contributions in art especially emerging from Africa. I performed with Grandmaster Masese in Ghana during the inaugural Pan-African Literary Forum. It was a great experience and I do not doubt his voice behind the skillful dribble of his finger on the strings of his Obokano.


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