“The Negro Problem” Visits Africa: Stew in Nairobi

I WAS really happy to see this: Stew, singer-songwriter, the imagination behind the Negro Problem and more recently the musical stage production, “Passing Strange” is blogging in the NYT about his experience in East Africa as part of The Sundance Institute Theater Program. They are headquartered in Kenya and already Stew is anxious for tastes of authenticity:

My daughter Bibi and I are to stay one night in Naroibi before we head to Manda but we are freaking cuz we cannot spend my first night in Africa eating hotel “sandwiches” designed for tourist gringos, as not a single Kenyan dish can be found on the menu. Nor can we spend my first night in Africa listening to the Afro-lounge pianist whose mango-sweet renditions keep asking the musical question: “When does the reality of an African cat playing stuff this square transcend ironic-kitsch appreciation and morph into the hold music for the Nairobi Suicide Hot-line?” Answer: immediately.

The writing is wry, beautiful, surprising and typically Stew.

Like this pointed self-reflection:

And don’t expect a hero’s welcome” screams the engine of the van dragging us away from Kenyatta’s airport “like most of our distant cousins who come “back” to Africa expecting parades, epiphanies and “Welcome Home” banners. You think you’re Obama? He doesn’t anymore! So why should you?

Nice little treat for high summer.

The rest here…

photo via New York Times Arts Blog


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