Kenyan performance scholar, Mshai Mwangola, is an oraturist, actor, director and story-teller who draws on story-ing traditions coming down the family line. She credits her great-aunt Jemima Chao, and godmother Pheobe Kimonge with first introducing her to the power of the story-teller. Learning to read unlocked the power of the written word; with time she became fascinated with the word in performance. The word on page and stage, the word as drama, poetry, fiction and non-fiction, the word as it reflects and reflects on life has inspired her studies, performance, teaching, research, event facilitation and civic engagement for the more than three decades since she first stepped on stage in primary school.
Mwangola holds a Bachelor of Education from Kenyatta University (Kenya), a Masters of Creative Arts from the University of Melbourne (Australia) and a Doctorate in Performance Studies from Northwestern University (USA). These have all been part of her quest for deeper immersion into the process and products of Africana story-telling traditions. Her philosophy is summed up in the title of her dissertation, "Performing Our Stories, Performing OurSelves", itself a study of the historical context and the work of three storytellers of Kenya's Uhuru Generation.
Currently, she focuses on amplifying the words of African story-tellers, both written and spoken, especially those that honour and further women's work and lives. Equally comfortable on academic and artistic stages, her performances prioritise the words and lives of continental and diasporic Africans as she seeks to engage the communities with which she works in using story as an essential map to plot life, past, present and future.
Select Storytelling Performances
2014 Featured Storyteller. "Telling the African Story" Time of the Writer Festival, Durban South Africa
2013 "Khanga Stories" Storymoja Hay Festival. Nairobi Kenya;
2013 Ensemble Member, "Their Justice shall be Our Justice", Storymoja Hay Festival, Nairobi, Kenya.
2011 "Performing Our Stories, Performing Ourselves: an Evening of Storytelling", Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, USA.
2011 Featured Storyteller, 3rdSigana International Storytelling Festival, Nairobi, Kenya.
2011 Featured Performance Poet. 3rd Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
2010 Featured Storyteller; Chief Judge. Colleges Storytelling competitions. Storymoja Hay Festival, Nairobi Kenya.
2010 Featured Storyteller. 2nd Sigana International Storytelling Festival, Nairobi, Kenya.
2010 Featured Storyteller. "African Women Writers Perform!" Northwestern University, IL, USA
2010 Featured Storyteller. "African Women Writers' Festival", U of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA.