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Spotlight: Alexander Ikawah

Spotlight: Alexander Ikawah

Spotlight is a monthly series showcasing work by a member (or member emeritus) of Jalada Africa. Each month, we explore poetry, fiction, nonfiction, photo/video essays, comics, films: it could be anything, as long as it’s produced by a Jaladan. We also highlight their past and present contributions to the Collective, whether editorial, managerial, or organizational.

Alexander “Alex” Ikawah is a founding member of Jalada Africa. He writes, makes films, draws, tells stories, and lately has also started making music for a living. Although he is quick to add, “Sometimes not for a living though, but because it has become like breathing.”

He lives in Nairobi (Eastlando massive) and is a graduate of Moi University Eldoret with a degree in Creative Arts, Theatre and Film and a minor in Literature. Therefor, film and writing both have been and still are lifelong pursuits for him.

Alex’s work has appeared in several short story anthologies and has been shortlisted twice for the Commonwealth Short Story Award: “Fatimah Saleh” (2013) and “April with Oyundi” (2015). His film credits include Heartshot, Sibini, Adwaro Gigega, Atoti and Watu Wote which secured a 2016 Oscar nomination.

Alex has written about Kenyan film/acting from as early as 2010 via www.filmkenya.blogspot.com and even came to discover that his blog inspired people to become filmmakers as well. “It’s difficult to say exactly when I started being a filmmaker. I have written about film, acted in films and TV series all before I was a published author. I have loved film actively all my life. Most of my primary school truancy was about watching films. There was a small mabati kibanda called Bretton Woods near Migori main stage where a jovial guy called Jamandhar would let us in for half price and warn us if a teacher was spotted trying to come in undercover so we could run out a small door behind the big screen TV,” he says.

Fittingly, this month, Alex shares with us a new short film, Ifikie Wazazi. In his own words:

“It is part of a series in partnership with Pawa 254 that intended to create stories addressing men about sexual harassment and gender-based violence, specifically with regard to the question: “How else can manhood look like?” I tried to create characters who were navigating situations that led them to either ask or ponder these questions, and, also tried to show how we live in a structure that possibly nurtures and exacerbates toxic masculinity. I’m not the best to judge how well I did at tackling the issue, but I have received a lot of positive feedback on my characters, and how many people connected. I believe this is how to change culture, by contributing alternative imaginations of our present and future to it actively through art. I’m honoured to add a drop to the ocean for a good cause.”

Watch the film below.


Alexander Ikawah wrote “The God with Twelve Hands” which appeared in Jalada 00: Sketch of a bald woman in the semi-nude and other stories (2014) and “Sex Ed for Village Boys” in Jalada 01: Sext Me Poems and Stories (2014).

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