In 2004 Eric Wainaina made another milestone on the Kenyan music scene when he premiered a 21- song musical theatre piece “Lwanda, Man of Stone”, 19 of which he wrote, based on a local folk story. He successfully married traditional instruments and styles of the Luo people of Western Kenya with contemporary urban Kenyan sound. The harmony is rich with modal colors and rhythmically enticing with ethnic groove.  One of the first of its kind in Kenya, the show ran for a hugely successful theatre season and a concert version of the same show continues to be performed at major cultural events. The concert versions feature 10 of the songs from the work strung together with narration and punctuated by world-class choreography.

Eric re-wrote the musical, resetting it as a modern story dubbed “Lwanda, a Ghetto Story”. Set in a modern day imaginary slum called Kwa Maji the musical revolved around the social and political struggles of a community radio DJ – Lwanda.    It was staged at the GoDown Arts Centre in December 2006 before going on a national tour in 2007 and 2008 and playing a total of 52 shows.

Later in 2008, he was selected by The Sundance Theatre Institute to attend a three week theatre workshop on the strength of  his musical.  A series of re-writes gave birth to the final script for the musical which was once again renamed – “Mo Faya!

 

 

Mo Faya!” made its international debut following an invitation to present it at the New York Musical Theatre Festival where it was enthusiastically received, garnering a distinction at the festival for Best New Female Performance of the festival.  The play then returned to The GoDown Arts Center where it played for an additional 36 shows and also received the highest level of corporate support for a theatre production from Kenya’s leading telecommunications company – Safaricom Ltd.

The musical is currently back in workshop with the Sundance Institute to prepare the production for a global release.