Change Story : Sarah Opondo

Sara Kwala first heard of GoDown from a friend in 2006, during the break between high school and university. Sara was, and still is, a hip hop fanatic, and when her friend told her that there would be a dance workshop at The GoDown that would incorporate hip hop dance, she was over the moon. Sarah went for the first few sessions, which were purely contemporary dance. She was not amused. Even so, her friend kept her going back with the promise that there would soon be a hip hop dance session. It never happened, but this is how Sarah fell in love with contemporary dance; it gradually made its home in her heart.

The dance programme ended after 6 months, with a performance at the Kenya National Theatre and for the Mathare Community Outreach Programme. After this, the participants in the programme went their separate ways. Sara would keep coming to The GoDown, helping out during gigs and other activities. She also began working on jewellery. She took The GoDown’s Creative Entrepreneurship classes, and ended up working at The GoDown on a full-time basis while still working on her contemporary dance projects. She has had several dance performances, including one just last weekend (24th Feb) at the Goethe Institut where she shared her work in progress.

One could certainly say that they could do the sum of 20*500 on their own, which is fine, but the idea behind seeking the 19 other people is to truly make this a community project; to get as many people interested in the vision. “The money they are asking us to give is nothing”, Dola continues. “And when the new structure comes up, you will feel like a part of it – it doesn’t matter what you give. You will talk about it, to your children, and your children’s children. You give out your 500 bob and it is going to go way beyond what you felt.”

When she heard that the GoDown was rebuilding, she couldn’t not give, and was the first person to give from within the GoDown during the GoDown 9 Day Drive last year. She says even if she hadn’t been to The GoDown, considering how historically important the rebuilding of the GoDown will be, she doesn’t see how anyone wouldn’t want to be part of the process. “We would be rebuilding our own structures, taking matters into our own hands in building institutions we would be satisfied with. It is not a big ask – I asked 30 people and ended up with my 19. 500 was not too much to ask of them.”

Her wish for the new GoDown is that there be a vibrant art offering – not just for dance but for every art form.