14 April 2008
African Puppetry on the rise!
The African delegation of UNIMA were well represented at UNIMA 2008 in Perth. For the first time ever, a delegate from Africa has been appointed to the Executive Committee. He is Mamadou Samake from Mali in West Africa. Mamadou was unanimously elected to give a voice to the puppeteers of Africa. During the congress I interviewed Phylemon Odhiambo of UNIMA Kenya. The Kenyan chapter of UNIMA was formed in 2002 at their first international puppetry festival in Nairobi. We all felt that it was time for Kenyan puppetry, which was fast expanding, to be a part of our world puppetry body. Phylemon was one of my first students in Kenya who started puppetry with us around 1990, when we started training 'Puppets Against Aids' groups to work in East Africa. They formed the Community Health Awareness Puppeteers (CHAPS) who have gone on to train over 500 puppeteers in the region. This is one of our greatest success stories in Africa. You can see a clip of their early work here!