|Naomi Samita’s selection to represent Kenya and attend filmmaking classes at the 54th Berlin International Film Festival in February was a dream fulfilled for the young Kenyan thespian, poet, writer, storyteller, playwright, actress, composer, recording artist and music anti-piracy activist. Samita was one of four Kenyans who attended the world’s second (after Cannes) most important film festival. Others were Wanjiru Kinyanjui, Willie Owusu and Jane Munene.
Although most Kenyans may not have heard of Naomi Immaculate Samita as far as film is concerned, pundits in the arts fraternity know her to be a focused and consistent artist who hardly ever veers from her chosen track irrespective of the cost While in Berlin, Samita was featured in a film on the Talent Campus. Thisappears to have opened doors for her as she is receiving numerous invitations to festivals at which she is expected to receive training and hone her skills. Among these are invitations to Cannes Film School in France in May at which she is expected to tarin in film production. She has also been invited to the Phillipines.
Founder of Maarifa Afrika Theatre group in Nairobi, Samita’s selection to Berlin was based on her play, Double Trouble, that she hopes to turn into a screen-play and produce into film.
Double Trouble, she says, revolves around a 25-year-old man who marries a woman 35 years his senior. She says of the play: “This is a reflection of the confusion within the African society on gender imbalance especially on domestic violence and on marriage. It is acceptable for a 55-year-old man to marry a 20-year-old girl. However if the reverse is the case, society condemns the woman. “The “Talent Campus,” that runs parallel with the Berlin Festival, was inaugurated in 2003 as an arena for emerging filmmakers to meet, interact, and network with experienced professionals from all cultures working in all genres of filmmaking.
The six-day programme touches on essential issues of filmmaking: the latest technical developments, creative tools, stylistic trends, future markets, and philosophical perspectives. With the theme “The Sound and Music,” a series of events around the 2004 edition explored how sound design and music relate to writing, producing, directing, cinematography, acting, and editing of film. Participants could qualify to shoot their own digital short films during the Campus that ended on February 12.
Samita founded Maarifa Afrika Theatre group in 2002 with a view to equipping young school leavers with creative skills to keep them out of mischief as they wait to join university or middle colleges of learning.
Among the plays the group has staged at the British Council auditorium in Nairobi include: Mbio za sakafuni (on the rights of the girl child with a focus on culture and education), Passionately (on HIV/Aids awareness), Forget me not (on domestic violence), and And life goes on (on corruption). Samita scripted and directed all these plays in which she also starred. The group also performs traditional dances from various Kenyan communities;Luhya, Kikuyu, Giriama and Luo.
Since 1998, Samita has been winning awards in storytelling performance at the Kenya National Music and Cultural Festivals. Among her award-winning poems are: Double Trouble, Mbona Mateso?, and Utamaduni Wetu. Besides composing and reciting Kiswahili poetry, Samita has also recorded a 12-song Kiswahili Christian songs album, Tuombe Mungu, and is looking forward to releasing two other albums. They are tentatively titled, Don’t leave me alone, and Usiogope. Each album consists of eight songs. Although some of her short stories for children have appeared in Taifa Jumapili and Taifa Leo, Samita says her eight short stories for children are in the process of being published.
So when and how did Samita’s flirting with the arts begin?
Naomi demonstrates the difference between a contraband music tape and a genuine product
With her participation in the second most important film festival in the world, Samita’s star can only be seen to be rising.