Abu Sense possesses an admirable skill, he writes on self discovery while constantly challenging pre-conceived notions of the unaccommodating, sometimes hostile, society he finds himself in. In every written piece, Abu seeks to spread hope, self evaluation and love for self. All in effort to inspire his readers to do the same and become thoughtful members of the society. Not only that, he is an electric performer who absorbs attention with his (sometimes) soft spoken voice reinforced by profound bursts of gestures – not to mention – his not too bad to look at right ladies?
Ink Overflow: When did you decide to become an artist?
Abu Sense: It had never dawned on me that there existed an identification termed “artist” before I was labelled one. I only saw it as doing what I love and readily available to the passion’s challenges. Nevertheless, it is important to define what one’s genre/area of focus is and strive to find purpose in it however difficult it may be. I had already decided to be one before knowing about it
IO: Was poetry always your interest?
AS: I had an ear for it through listening to lyricists; notably Lupe Fiasco, Common, K’naan and co. but did not bother to pick up the pen and jot down lines of my own…up until my then girlfriend begun writing to a form four friend of ours and received responses that stung my feeble form three heart… so I fought back to regain her appeal before I could lose it. I had previously scribbled a few paragraphs of thoughts but all in prose format. My main interest is acting which has now morphed into an umbrella definition of storytelling.
IO: Where did you learn your skill?
AS: Through listening to rappers mostly. I yearned to get the depth of Lupe Fiasco, to achieve Kanye West’s storytelling ease, K’naan’s drive in representing and bringing his Somali culture to his foreign abode, and recently, Outkast’s thirst for experimentation with sound while maintaining authenticity; just to mention a few.
I attended a number of workshops that taught poem structures, but rules and borders don’t work well with my thought processes as a creative.
IO: How do you structure your days?
AS: Unless I’m attending meetings, rehearsals or employment obligations, my space and time are rarely structured. Sadly I’m not able to summon a creative thought at will, instead, I write down an idea whenever I have one and let it marinate to the point where my vocabulary can match up to it.
IO: What has been your favourite performance to date?
AS: Too Early For Birds has been the most fulfilling one to date. I was part of the entire process; idea generation, conceptualization, scripting, planning, raising capital, marketing and performing alongside other brilliant fast-rising stars.
IO: What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
AS: I’d store all my pieces and ideas in one central place for easier access. I stumbled a bit in the performance scene due to lack of a point of reference, which meant I couldn’t track my progression as a person and as an artist. I wrote many pieces on different notebooks, school books, sheets of papers, and social media sites etc
With scattered content, I lost valuable records that would otherwise build my portfolio and make it easier for networking and sourcing funds.
IO: What’s the best advice you ever received?
AS: To be as vulnerable as I can be.
IO: What is still your biggest challenge in Kenya’s art industry?
AS: Hesitation in cooperative projects. The same teams of talents keep being recycled over and over, diluting the opportunities for budding aspirants who yearn to prove themselves and challenge the comfortable celebrities.
Competition is vital for progression.
IO: Is poetry full time for you?
AS: Storytelling is now full time. I’m not satisfied by being limited to poetry alone, hence the use of the umbrella term “storytelling” to encompass all aspects of what I do; film, TV, stage plays, social media content generation, writing and any field or platform that accommodates stories.
IO: If not what else do you do?
AS: I write scripts, whether for individual performances or for other artists. I draft strategies for art projects and work with a team of experienced colleagues to execute the plans. I’m still a budding actor working tirelessly to break into the scene and grow in the performance and creative industry.
IO: Who inspired the last thing you wrote?
AS: Owaahh and Yuval Noah Harari. The former writes on Kenyan history and folklore while the latter wrote a book titled “A brief history of humankind” that facilitated writing of the story about Nyayo House torture chambers that was performed in the first installation of Too Early For Birds
IO: How do you deal with creative blocks?
AS: I don’t try to control it. I find the need to always be in charge of certain things and aspects being detrimental as one focuses too much on the issue and more often than not one ends up taking more time thinking about the issue in a particular angle and misses the other side of the coin.
IO: How have you defined masculinity and femininity in your life?
AS: I have lived in multiple households in my upbringing and have experienced different people in different segments of growing. Most of the households that sheltered me ended up with me being the only boy. I’m pleased to say that such environments have bred me to be a staunch believer in accommodation and being a person who does not tread on the thin line between masculinity and femininity. The two have a symbiotic relationship and if tapped into, one may very well appeal to anyone… I mean… look at American rapper; Drake.
IO: What advice do you have for other artists?
AS: BE AS VULNERABLE AS YOU CAN BE.