Mũmbi Kaigwa - Acting Career

Actor. Writer. Producer. Director.

My first public acting role was in 1972 (“The Strong Breed” by Wole Soyinka).

I played “Girl” in a production that was filmed at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC) and screened on the Voice of Kenya Television.

Over the years I’ve performed at school, at university and after work.

In 1999 I left my regular job at the United Nations to devote myself to the theatre. My CV lists drama, comedy, tragedy, musicals, monologues, mime, dance, experimental, improvised and devised work.
I’ve been in plays by African, Aborigine, North American and Chilean writers, as well as Shakespeare and Ibsen, among other European playwrights.
I’ve worked on stage, in television and on film and toured my original plays to festivals in USA, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia.
I also teach acting and writing (for screen and stage) and I recently started making documentaries.

* Actor; because you don’t call a female doctor “doctress”.


  • National Best Actress Award, Kenya School’s Drama Festival, 1978
  • Eve Magazine Woman of the Year – Arts and Culture, 2003
  • Most Influential Woman in Business and Government (Arts and Culture Kenya) 2013
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Most Influential Woman in Business and Government (Arts and Culture Africa), 2013
  • Most Influential Woman in Business and Government (Arts and Culture, Kenya, East Africa, and Africa), 2014
  • Thoth Award for Theatre, Culture Ministry Egypt, presented at the Cairo International Festival of Contemporary and Experimental Theatre (CIFCET), 2o16


In September 2002 I organised a regional festival of storytelling and dance. The East African SanDD Festival hosted participants from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in a three-week tour of Kenya, with performances being staged free of charge in the following venues:

  1. Leleshwa Soap Factory in Ongata Rongai
  2. Oserian Flower Farm in Naivasha
  3. Shangilia Mtoto wa Afrika Children’s Home, Nairobi
  4. The International School of Kenya, Nairobi
  5. The Main Podium at Uhuru Park, Nairobi
  6. Carnivore Restaurant (Simba Saloon) in Nairobi

The Festival was created with the support of above venues as well as The Ford Foundation, The Sarakasi Trust and Safaricom.


Work History

  • UNICEF KENYA 1988-1994, Documentalist
  • United Nations Drug Control Programme (1994-1998), Programme/Information Officer
  • The Theatre Company (1999-2008), Founder, Managing Director
  • The Arts Canvas (2008-present), Founder, Managing Artistic Director

Memberships & Boards

  • Sundance Theater Institute (Utah)
  • Maisha Film Lab (Uganda)
  • Media Development for Africa (MEDEVA Ltd.) (2003-2014)
  • Sarakasi Trust (2002-2012)
  • Associate Member, League of Professional Theatre Women (New York)
  • President, Women Playwrights International (2003 to 2005)

Mũmbi Kaigwa - School

ruth-jumpMaster Classes in screenwriting, playwriting and acting, started during the first quarter of the year, and proved very popular.

If you want some more information or want to sign up for our next session, drop us a line at contact@theartscanvas.com or TEXT us on +254 707 305365.

Mũmbi has over 25 years of experience in live performance – she started out in primary school like most people, but then, thanks to her uncle, she caught a lucky break and performed all through high school and university with the Nairobi University Free Travelling Theatre, working with such luminaries as Seth Adagala, Greg Adambo, David Rubadiri, John Ruganda, George Menoe, Mhlangabezi ka Vundla, and Janet Young. Later collaborations include James Falkland, James (Jimmy) Ward, John Sibi Okumu and Keith Pearson.

She’s also worked with international directors and you can see her in films such as The Constant Gardener, Neighbours, The Knife Grinder and The First Grader.

Mũmbi spent the early 00’s training as an Editorial Producer and Writer on Heart and Soul, possibly Kenya’s first international soap opera, with trainer-producers from the British TV series’ Casualty and Eastenders (BBC), and Family Affairs (Thames TV).

Her Master Classes are open to participants with at least a basic level of experience.

Click here to download information on the learning modules