By Oyamo Richard
Picture the dark tall Oyamo Richard on a coffee date. Their table is well situated in a corner and there is a window through which he can see the Expressway. Across the table is sitting Victor Muyekwe Chisaina. Purpose of this date is getting to know the artistic side of this legend in the making. It is the steady strides he is making that compelled Rafinki to want to know more on him. Here is some intriguing information dag from the thespian by our one of our own Oyamo Richard.
The name Chisaina has been on people’s tongue for some time now. But most of us don’t really know who this Chisaina is. So who is Chisaina?
Well, my official name is Victor Muyekwe Chisaina. I use Chisaina as my stage name. I am an artist, a thespian and a poet. I have majored on Swahili poetry though I also do English poetry but people don’t know about that.
Why is it that we, your fans do not know about this English poet side of you?
I think I have done alot of research on Swahili poetry to a sense that I usually feel I haven’t done much research on English poetry hence, I rarely share my English poetry. But I am working on that. I am also a playwright and a play director. I am still a student at Kenyatta University pursuing bachelors degree in Theater Arts and Film.(He giggles and then says) I’m a fifth year doing first year units. Aaaah! Oh my introduction, what am I forgetting?(he hesitates then says). I am a second born, a lad from Kakamega though I was born in Uasin Gishu, some place in Eldoret. Life was quite good until my family relocated back to Kakamega during the 2007 post election violence and wueeh! From then life was not easy. But I think it is the hardship that has built who I am to even realizing my talents and potential.
I see that there is an animal photo of a leopard or is it cheetah that you usually use alongside your name when it is in print. This is becoming a crucial part of your brand. Maybe you can tell the intention and meaning behind that.
It is a tiger. (Widening his smile) well, my love for tigers has no big reason. But I like how people underrate a tiger. If you ask people to mention the wild animals they fear, many don’t or forget to mention the tiger. I also like its hunting habits. Very calculated and meticulous.They are also usually silent unless it is very necessary to produce sound. I think that describes me or let’s say my brand.
Interesting, very interesting. I like that. And I think this the right time to ask this question. What animal would you like to pet? Be it a dog, a cat or any other animal.
(Laughingly) none of the above. I am not a pet person. Actually (he begins giggling) I dislike cats. They always look fishy, like if they find you under favorable circumstances they can turn wild on you. My dislike was born from seeing my grandfather’s cat that grew wild once they were old enough to fend for themselves.
I am not a pet person too. But if I am placed at gunpoint, I think I will choose a dog. At times I’m tempted to believe that indeed the dog is a true mans friend. (Chisaina nods in agreement.) I realize you are in countable art fields, I would like to know, when is it that you first realized you are an artist, regardless of the art form.
Well, I have a number of traces that can lead us to where it all began, but when I was very young before I even joined nursery school. We use to have a nanny, who I think is the one who first built me as a stage performer. She would request me to memorize memory verses from the bible which I would recite before the church on Sundays. I would be given sweets after the presentation and that was all the motivation I needed to continue memorizing. By the time I was starting school, this nanny had stopped working for us. Luckily in class two there was a teacher who would request to memorize an entire story from a text book and then recite it in front of the class. Then I fell in love with Swahili poems from the textbooks which I would memorize and recite the entire poem before the school on assembly. I first acted in a chruch play that was in luhya language, it had been written down. All there was , was the roles as assigned by the Sunday school teacher. I think in high school is when I came to be built well, especially in terms of acting.
What accomplishment would you say you have achieved so far?
My life just flows on its own. God just does things. My mum likes reminding that. It has never been easy, since primary even when I was to narrate a story before people. And always, I always have to prove people wrong. Because the first impression people create on me is that I cannot do it. So each and every time I have to work against the odds. I have to do seventy percent when others are doing fifty percent. So I can’t pinpoint this or that as my accomplishment. I believe God just puts me in positions and things open up for me.
I think my achievement is being in the moment. Yes I have dreams but I am more of the, what do I have to do now person. Tomorrow will solve itself. Like when the first time I staged a show at Kenya National Theater, I didn’t know I could do it, but I faced it and yes it did.
My next question is a bit on the flipside of the achievements. I know every artist has their lowest moment. What is or was your lowest moment?
Well, art can be difficult. A good number of times I have wanted to quit art. Too much pressure, no returns. You know art is what I went to study in the university. My family members have never been in support. They keep asking me, so after getting this degree of yours, so what? Where are going to get employed. In fact its only in my recent show that my relatives attended, yet I have been inviting them all along. ( he hesitates and then observes a moment of silence in introspection) I have talked much; (he giggles) what was the question again?
The question was your lowest moment; I actually think you have answered…
(cuts Oyamo short) well my lowest moment has to be during the covid-19. The pandemic hit at a time when light was not just at the end of the tunnel, I was at the end of the tunnel. Success was stretching its hand to shake mine and then boom. Covid hit. And the dreams evaporated. I remained caged in my closet trying to write and venture into film but there no proper equipments and I’m more of a theater person than a film.
My next question even as we draw to a close, who in this art industry do you look upto?
Well, I like I said, I’m more of what’s in the present and close. I look up to almost everyone around me. I strive to learn one or two things from everyone. When people ask me this question they expect me to mention someone maybe in the US or western country but that is not the case. But yeah, there are people who are doing amazing work and they really inspire me. Like Millerz Production. I like how they have built a brand for themselves, there is Daddy Mato, pascal, Bilal ,when it comes to poetry there are guys like you, Oyamo Richard
Hapo you have decided to flatter me now, (they both join in a laugh). Anyway, on my last question. What is the one advice you would give to anyone in the art industry, be it upcoming, establishment, just a word for anyone who might be looking up to you?
Is there someone looking up to me? (he laughs) well, in high school, there was this teacher who used to say in the assembly “bidii, Nidhamu, Yesu”. That’s it.