Award-winning artist set to speak

Katwiwa%2C+also+known+as+%22FreeQuency%22+is+set+up+to+perform+at+Open+Mic+Night.
Katwiwa, also known as

Katwiwa, also known as "FreeQuency" is set up to perform at Open Mic Night.

Photo curtesy of www.freequencyspeaks.com

Photo curtesy of www.freequencyspeaks.com

Katwiwa, also known as "FreeQuency" is set up to perform at Open Mic Night.

Bryce Jungquist, Staff Reporter

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A woman stands in front of a small crowd in the SURC Pit and her presence commands the crowd’s attention: and then she speaks.

Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa is a writer, storyteller and youth worker. She is well recognized for unashamedly adding a social justice narration to her poetry and is set to perform before Open Mic Night.

Originally from Kenya, Katwiwa now lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Katwiwa said she started spoken word in middle school. In Katwiwa’s early life, she was in various youth programs. Project 2050, a spoken word group, first peaked the interest of Katwiwa.

“At that time, that was the year it was projected that people of color were going to be the majority in the United States. The program was around questions. What would it look like for us to be in the majority, what would it look like to shift power in the meanwhile? It was a multidisciplinary arts project,” Katwiwa said.  

Katwiwa noted that as a kid, she would put together short stories. What made her venture into spoken word was being able to see it as another poetry form and one that she could link with and use to connect with others.

“It really just depends what’s going on. I’m not one of those poets who’s really good at being commissioned to write certain things because if I’m not feeling it, then I don’t know if I can necessarily just start writing about something,” Katwiwa said.

She said it’s not for her to choose what people get out of the show. Much of her work focuses around social matters and social modification.

Ted Wolfe, student event coordinator for Campus Activities and Open Mic host, said that his staff mentioned to him that FreeQuency has several spoken words that are strong and moving.

He said Open Mic Night provides a good atmosphere for people to continue to work on their talents, become more relaxed with an audience watching and perform what they’ve been practicing.

“It’s a great welcoming environment,” Wolfe said. “Nobody’s going to boo them off stage.”

Alexis Everett, special events coordinator of Campus Activities, said they found FreeQuency at the National Association of Campus Activities in November. FreeQuency was a part of one of the showcases.

“What they talked about was so real and really brought up cases of social injustice that hit home for a lot of people. And she had respect immediately up on stage. We thought it would be such a great opportunity to bring FreeQuency here, especially because of lot of our participants for Open Mic do spoken word,” Everett said.

Katwiwa said that it’s vital to pass on spoken word. She said that there isn’t a way she would be doing all of what she’s doing now if not for the programs she was involved with as a youth. Katwiwa still is devoted to running the New Orleans youth Open Mic Night and another youth program, Young Women With a Vision.

“For me it’s about pushing poetry as much as I can to spread word, spread a certain message, get people to talk about different things and also just to help other people figure out whatever their own voice is,” Katwiwa said. “In the same way I was able to find mine through poetry.”

On Jan. 25, FreeQuency will take the stage in the SURC Pit at 7 p.m

Open Mic Night begins at 8 p.m., SURC Pit

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Award-winning artist set to speak