He says the word means “confused” but Ibrahim doesn’t look conjolted. Not in one bit. It’s not in the way he raps or speaks or sings. It’s not in the way he dresses. It’s not in the way he draws in the crowd with his clever phrases. He looks like a poet with a plan.
Ibrahim Balunywa is the first person to hold a one-man poetry show in Uganda. Peter Kagayi, one of the founders of The Poetry Shrine which hosted the show was eager to point that out. Not even the famous Okot P’Bitek had achieved this feat. The Poetry Shrine meets every last Tuesday of the month and showcases different kinds of poetry. It was last year on this platform that I first listened to Ibrahim. I even mentioned it here. He is a singing-reciting-dramatic-rap-performing poet with an eloquence that makes a spoken-word artist.
On his first show, Ibrahim was able to perform all his poetry with ease, assisted sometimes by Hawa, a fellow poet in the Shrine. With no poem shorter than four minutes, it proved he was one with the poetry and the poetry one with him.
One thing that stands out about Ibrahim is his spirituality. You cannot miss the already conspicuous beard on his face. Even as he begins the show, the recording that ushers him onto the small stage has references to God. It is unclear though at the start, especially with his first poem, “Take me to church” whether he is a Christian, Muslim or otherwise. A lot of his poetry on the night tackles the question of approaching God and understanding him and makes mockery of our attempts at religiosity despite our selfishness. “Lucifer” is one of those poems.
The second thing is that he has either observed quite a number of the relationships in today’s society or has been in several himself. His depictions of relationships are very candid, funny and almost like they were happening at the neighbour’s or in your own home. The most hilarious of the poems he performs about love and its problems is “I’m Leaving” where after a tirade about him leaving his girl he says
The worst part of all this poetic BS,
besides me being mad at you for your stress is the fact that you’ve been silent
waiting for me to cut to the chase;
Ayeh, I’v packed my bags and I’m leaving,
I’m going down stairs and I’ll be sleeping
In the couch until you forgive me for all the BS I just said!
Yes, you can already see that he’s quite good with the comic relief too, shifting between seriousness and fun with expertise. He knows how to command sobriety and abandon at the same time. His singing may not be Maurice Kirya-esque but with training, this guy could be a serious force on the Arts plane.
The Poetry Shrine might have to rethink their venue seeing as they plan to do this for several Ugandan poets. Ibrahim’s show was well attended for a venue like the Big Hut. Part of the audience had to stand outside to enjoy the show.
Most of the poetry he performed on the show can be found on his blog ebrahim-conjolted.blogspot.ug.
For a first show, this was a revelation. His rapping, powerful speaking, singing, and reciting was very enjoyable. I look forward to his next performance but before that, I’ll be looking forward to Harriet Anena’s one woman show also at the Big Hut on the 17th of April.