African red earth, Marabou Storks, traffic jams (that makes Joburg feel like the countryside in peak hour), sugar cane, the delicious local food, bright smiles and open hearts are a few of my fleeting impressions of my time spent in Kenya – oh – and not to forget the clowns!
What an international cross-cultural clown collaboration! 2 South Africans, 1 Swazi, 1 Swede, 1 Belgian and 2 Kenyans coming together over 2 weeks to bring laughter to young mothers in and around Nairobi. Mix them all together; add a pinch of Swahili, acrobatics, a rubber chicken and sheer tomfoolery to taste, and you are left with a cocktail of clowning delight.
As the Artistic Director on a CWB project, I usually take my place backstage or in the crowd while the artists get to play. I am very happy to be the outside eye and take my delight in watching the audience respond to the show. However, earlier this year, I completed my Care Clown training and realised that there are moments when I too want to come out to play. So when our Sarakasi Trust partners, invited us to do a performance at Kenyatta International Hospital and then to do a walk about as care clowns, I couldn’t believe my fortuitous luck. Going to the hospital can sometimes be good news.
The show was a huge success and the children and their mothers were thoroughly entertained. As the team packed up the props, I did my best Clark Kent impersonation as I removed my civilian cloths to expose my true clown self. Once I placed my red nose on and joined my fellow clowns, the play continued. We visited various wards along with the Sarakasi Hospital Clowns, bringing joy and smiles to the children. I recall being utterly ridiculous, and the more this brought smiles – I am proud to say – the more ridiculous I became. For I know, in those minute moments when people are laughing, sickness and ailments do not exist, we are whole and healthy and radiating joy.
Our visit seemed all too brief and before I realised it, it was time to wave goodbye, remove the red nose, suit up in my civilian clothing and don my director’s cap once more. This day really stood out, amongst the many other amazing days we experienced, as it was my opportunity to directly play with the other clowns and children and give myself permission to be as silly as possible.
Kenya has really left a lasting impression on my heart: the places, the people and the experiences. This is only the beginning of a 2.5 year collaborative project between Clowns without Borders South Africa, Clowns without Borders Sweden and Hand in Hand East Africa… and I sense there is much MUCH more joy and laughter to come!
– 22 July, 2014, Jayne Batzofin