Arts + Culture

The Ted Talk Questionnaire: This Kenyan Percussionist is Bringing Her 'Weird Energy' to Arusha

The Kenyan percussionist Kasiva Mutua shares what she learnt from the TED process and her desire to explore different percussion instruments.

This August, Arusha, Tanzania will be the setting of TEDGlobal 2017 Conference where 21 innovators will come to spread worthy ideas. 10 are from Africa. As part of our focus on African Futures, this month we wrote to this year’s African Fellows to ask them questions about themselves and their work. TED recently announced that applications to be a 2018 TED Fellow are now open.


Find out more information about the program and how to apply, here.

Our sixth interview is with Kasiva Mutua, an international touring percussionist. She told us about what she learnt from the TED process and her hopes of mastering different percussion instruments.

How did you first find out you were selected?

I first found out about my selection via email. Last year I had made an application and got accepted but had to turn it down because the dates for TED collided with a tour I was doing in the US. I re-applied this year and got in.

What was your reaction when you got the word?

Aaaaaaaaaaah!!! And I did a happy dance thereafter!!!

Was it difficult coming up with the concept for your talk/project?

It wasn’t too challenging because my talk is linked to personal experiences.

What did you learn about yourself through the process?

I have learnt that I’m stronger than I think and I can be stronger than how I presently am. While writing my talk, I have had to relive my life since I was 6 and go through all the moments from when I first started beating surfaces to now. It’s been an emotional experience and I have garnered strength from reliving those experiences one more time.

Are you nervous about your presentation?

SUPER nervous!!! I actually think I’m radiating very weird energy recently….

Any particular things you are doing by way of preparation?

I have had to find more alone time to be able to focus properly. My life is full of sounds and noises and it can be a challenge to write in such an environment.

Where do you hope to go to from here?

I hope to collaborate more with female musicians from around the world and explore more percussion instruments from all over. I am definitely looking to putting an album together really soon with MOTRA, an all girl percussion group that I mentor. I will keep mentoring young girls who are interested in percussion locally and internationally. I’m also looking to polish my guitar skills. Out of 10, I’m at 0.5.

Check out the rest of our interviews with this year’s TED Fellows here.

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