Poet Ife mistook her stroke for a bad headache

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Keeping on. She was that face you never missed at art events. If she wasn’t cordinating, she was definitely one of the performers, yet a year later, after suffering a devastating stroke, poet and artiste Ife Piankhi is not only trying to pick the art up, she’s trying to find her moves, rhythm as well as her life. Edgar R. Batte writes.

She is a visually stark opposite of her former self. Under a half cover of blankets and bed sheets made visible by the golden sunlight peeping through the window, Ife Piankhi looks on, seemingly numb.
After a few minutes, she attempts a dull smile. With a tinge of pain, she attempts to raise her hand to gesture in an exchange of courtesies. Her hands can no longer hold firmly so they are as wobbly as her shaky and somewhat stammering voice.
Her caretaker, and friend, Kaya Sanaa Mwakalobo stays close by, to help her off the bed and into the seat, and then outside. It is visibly a discomforting situation and a phase where she is not fully in control of her limbs.
Piankhi is an artist, one of the most recognisable poets on Uganda’s contemporary scene. There was a time she was full of life, energetic, rich with words and expression. Her energy was always felt by audiences whenever she had a performance. It is not surprising that she became a fixture performer at all thematic events, especially those that were skewed towards storytelling.
Today, she can only be nostalgic about her hey agile days.
By Christmas Day, in 2018 Piankhi had been on the road, traversing different African countries for more than a month.
She was part of the road travel Great African Caravan, a brainchild of Art Caravan, an Indo-Swiss organisation of global artists using their talent and skills for peace building and conflict resolution.
They had officially been flagged off at the Unesco New Delhi offices, though the road trip had started from Cape Town, South Africa. They had gone through Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania, among others.

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