Play Depicting Exploitation of Oil in Turkana Banned in kenya
The controversy around the banning of a play, Shackles of Doom, by Butere Girls has continued to raise questions. There was drama when Kakamega County Education Officer Alex Majani refused to allow journalists and theatre critics to watch the play. Over ten journalists from different media houses were stranded at the school after earlier arrangements to have the play staged by students were stopped with teachers and students gagged from speaking to the Press.
Instead, the institution’s drama patron referred them to the District Quality Assurance Officer Isaac Kuya. He was waiting in his office at the Butere District Education headquarters across the road. “I have no permission to talk to you since the principal is away for a heads meeting in Busia. But you can have a statement from Mr Kuya.
Asked if there was hate speech in the play, Kuya said: “If there was hate in that storyline, I could have advised and the play could not have moved to the level it has.” Mr Okwemba, who is in charge of the Nzoia region that includes the whole of former Western Province, West Pokot, and Turkana counties, said hate speech could be relative.
He recalls that the only recommendation made by adjudicators was for “some sections of the play not to be direct in its message”. Speaking to The Standard on his way to Sweden where he will be on an education and cultural exchange for a month, the Nzoia region drama secretary has dissociated himself from any condemnation of the play. “As far as I am concerned the region is powerfully represented by Butere Girls, Kakamega High and Vihiga High in that order,” said Mr Indakwa, who is also a church pastor.
These, among many comments that vindicate the play’s author and director Cleophas Malalah, who is in shock as to why the play was banned. Shackles of Doom is play that engages with the audience on the way the national cake is distributed in this country. It has nothing to do with hate speech,” he explains.
Malalah said his passion for working with young people has always been to tap talent and to debate national issues through theatre. “Recently the National Cohesion and Integration Commission published some research on how State and public service jobs have been skewed in favour of one ethnic group. Is it taboo to discuss these findings through a stage play,” wonders the youthful Malalah, the defending champion of the Best Director nationwide.
The veteran playwright is asking for a second chance and has said for the sake of the children participating in the play, the team was ready to adjust any concerns raised by the Ministry of Education and have the form and content agreeable to all.