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Shailja tossing sari in the air
Photo: D. Ross Cameron, ANG Newspapers


Migritude is Shailja's 90-minute spoken-word theatre show. It uses her trousseau of saris, passed down by her mother, to unfold hidden histories of women's lives in the bootprint of Empire, from India to East Africa.


Directed by Kim Cook (who also acted as dramaturg and creative development partner), Migritude was recipient of a Creation Fund Award from the National Performance Network. It premiered to packed houses and standing ovations in the San Francisco Bay Area, before embarking on a tour of Kenya, funded by the Ford Foundation.


Migritude was the subject of the 2007 season premiere of SPARK, award-winning Arts and Culture series on California's KQED TV, alongside the work of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Ron Guidi.


Watch the 8-minute Migritude story from SPARK on KQED TV
Read about it here.



How is it possible to combine a narrative of imperialism and colonisation, of the demise of the hopes of independence, with a remarkably honest, personal narrative of family life, all of it combined with art, acting, choreography and deeply moving poetry?

Shailja has managed this extraordinary feat without once resorting to rhetoric or cliché. Here we have a political history told from a personal perspective, in poetry that addresses the intellect and the heart at the same time.

Migritude is essential viewing for citizens in East Africa – and beyond.

—Firoze Manji, founder and editor of Pambazuka News


Shailja's just concluded homecoming goes beyond the artistic effort of bringing Migritude to lovers of literature and theatre. It seems to suggest an invitation to expand the temporal and spatial dimensions of our narrations of African nations in the manner of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Wizard of the Crow. In such expanded narrative spaces, both indigenous and migrant memories and buried (hi)stories can be resurrected and given a long overdue homecoming.

—JKS Makokha, Literature Department, Kenyatta University