Creativity Awards: Sailing in tidal waters of spoken word poetry
Two years after Stephen Biko aka G-cho Pevu ventured in the world of art, he has bagged prestigious awards, one after another. His wife, Tabitha Anyango tells us more
Recently, Kenyan poet Stephen Biko, whose stage name is G-cho Pevu became the overall winner of Oscar of African Creativity Awards 2019.
Hosted by the ministry of Youth and Sports in Egypt, the forum was created to offer a platform for young talents as well as activate cultural and artistic activities in African countries.
“He learnt about Oscars of African Creativity on social media and decided to apply. He went through the selection process and his big moment came when he was chosen to contest with other African creatives,” says 27- year-old Tabitha Anyango, his wife.
Each contestants had five minutes on stage. Biko presented a poem Experimental Music about Africa donned in a Maasai attire.
This wowed the judges and the audience and he was chosen to perform during the closing ceremony attended by diplomats and ministers.
So excited was he that he posted the entire experience on his Facebook page. “They are calling me the Kenyan who became an Egyptian Star… the trophy Harambee Stars haikuleta ndio nimewaletea Wakenya wenzangu… we did it,” he said.
And this is not just the only win that Biko has bagged. In 2012, he was crowned the slam Africa King and in 2018 he became the Sondeka award winner in Experimental Music category.
Currently, he is the voice over artist featured by Safaricom in the Blaze Be Your Own Boss (BYOB 2018).
With the help of a live band, his pieces revolve around themes of relationships, morals and social affairs.
“His consistency in doing music and poetry for seven years has earned him the title of being one of the leading poets/musician in the country,” Tabitha notes.
The two met in 2014 at a rehearsal room. Tabitha is also in the art industry, as an actor, make-up artist as well as a stylist. It was love at first sight.
“I was blown away by his looks. He also wore a smile that captivated me. We had a little chat and I could tell he was a polite man,” she says. When they met the next day, Tabitha asked for his contacts and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tabitha likes the freedom that he gives her. “He is supportive whenever I’m stuck in any situation and also patient. He is also an amazing father to our two children,” she adds.
Biko discovered he was good at spoken word in 2011, two years after his secondary education at Pioneer High School, Nairobi. He was inspired by the need to free the mind of people via words.
Born and raised in Mathare North, the first born in a family of four is the only artistic child in the home. His other siblings are into martial arts (Tae Kwon Do). His parents were supportive of his course.
However, one of the biggest challenge was finding a platform for spoken word artistry.
“Biko started out as a rapper and two years later he started doing gospel rap after a friend introduced him to spoken word,” narrates Tabitha.
Another major challenge is finances. The poetry gigs don’t pay well making it difficult to rely on just that for survival.
This is why he has incorporated music to reach a wider audience. His latest debut album is titled Safari (Kiswahili word for journey) and has six pieces.
This hustles make the young family live a decent life. However, some additional expenses can put them on edge. Such was the case when it came to Biko’s trip to Egypt for the award ceremony.
“Having qualified for the contest, we needed money for visa processing, air travel, accommodation, amongst other expenses. We approached some of our closest friends, but the money wasn’t enough,” says Tabitha.
Seven days to the deadline, they decided to source for funds through Facebook. Many people donated, but on the last day, the cash was not enough and he had already processed his visa.
“So on that last day, tukaamua kurudishia watu pesa zao (We decided to return people’s cash). But God came through for us through a well-wisher. We will forever be grateful,” she reveals.
With the use of spoken word, Biko has built a community library, an artistic space for other artists to explore their talents. And while the couple don’t want to force arts on their two children, their three-year-old has already made a debut by acting in a short film known as Zawadi.
Tabitha supports her husband not just by offering emotional support, but also as his manager.
“The fact that I have experience in the industry as well as professional-wise, we agreed that I would handle the bigger issues such as clients and signing deals. He also wants me to gain experience in this new field being that he is supportive of my career,” she concludes.