WIERD WEIRD WORLD NEWS : Glo’s This and That

LIBERIAS’ COME BABY COME SAGA.

So Liberia isn’t so liberal after all. Early this week, a close member of President Sirleaf’s government went all out threatening journalists who dared criticize the government. In a press conference with them, he is recorded saying, ‘if you dare criticize us, we will come after you .’

As thought to answer him in a ‘come baby come fashion, Liberian media completely refused to report on government issues . They gave the government a total blackout for a while. Moreover, the newspaper headline the next day had a picture of a gun titled government facing a pen called journalist. Ouch!

Now there is a smarter way that serikal should have used. For one, they should have borrowed from our dearest neighbor one Jakaya Kikwete famously known to Tanzanian Youth as ‘Jay Kay’ who on being criCIzed by the youth , termed them ‘unpatriotic ’ . Perhaps this would have madde them feel a bit guilty.
However, because its rather late for that, lemme throw in a word of advice for you Sir and Mrs. Sirleaf; ‘If you rattle a snake, it will bite you.’

SOUTH AFRICANS RITES OF PASSSAGE KILLING YOUNG BOYS.

In a rather unfortunate ending to a coming of age ceremony, 20 boys have died in an initiation school in South Africa. These young boys are usually taken to a forest to undergo the transition to manhood together.

Just last year, 50 other boys died at a similar initiation ceremony. There events are carried out by cultural entrepreneurs who do it for a profit. Maybe the South African government needs to intervene and prevent these unfortunate occurrences. And the children should be taken to proper hospitals and then undergo the ceremony after they are healed. Anything, to save the large number of young lives lost.

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Could this be the renaissance of the Kenyan Theatre?

Seating through the sweltering heat at the Aga Khan high school hall in Mombasa last week, one thing was crystal clear; Kenyan theater has come of age.
All the decorum, well scripted plays, young confident actors and modern day themes addressed left not an iota of doubt in my mind that finally, Kenyan playwrights have washed their proverbial hands and are now ready to dine with literary kings of Shakespearian likeness.
A Keen follower of the current affairs in the country would notice that most of the themes tackled at the drama festivals were contemporary. Words like ‘ni Kama ndrama, Kama findeo ’ and ‘wainganjo’ were frequently used much to the charm of the crowd which roared with laughter and glee.
This however, would have struck a nerve with renown American poet and professor Billy Collins who argues that writers should desist from using fad dialects or making reference to contemporary culture because with time this will make the writers work dated and hence drastically reduce the shelf life of the piece of work.

Themes handled.

Various contemporary themes were well tackled by the crop of actors amongst them :
Drug abuse. This was best illustrated through two plays and a solo verse. Menengai High school’s ‘ the docker’ creatively set at sea, tells the story of a rich foreign drug lord, ‘Octopus’ whose ship is about to dock . Octopus’ has two lovers. One is a high school girl who spends most of her time on social media chatting with him. (She later discovers he is her biological father.) The older lover, who sells drugs for Octopus, turns out to be the school girls’ mother
The other play on the theme was ‘Bishop Gatimu’s ‘Search for Anaconda’ in which a rich high ranking official who is a drug trafficker, implicate his helpless juniors as he goes scot-free.
Moi Girls’ Nairobi’s solo verse, ‘My director’, powerfully told the story of a youth who, neglecting good advice, indulges in drug abuse in order to gain fame and prosperity.
The disintegrating modern family was a topic well illustrated through Kakamega High schools’ hilarious play, ‘One More Case’. In this story, after years of rejecting his family, an absentee father shows up in his child’s life. The child, driven to the brink of insanity by loneliness and lack of mentorship; and desperate for acceptance, joins a gang which introduces him to drugs. Unfortunately, he commits an act which could lead him to spending a life time in jail, or worse still, lead to a death sentence .
Ngere High school charmed the crowd with ‘the skirt’ an emotional play which heavily borrows from former Minister Mutula’s short skirts drama . It advocates for bridging of the communication gap between school administrations’ and students through dialogue instead of strikes, strict rules and suspensions
Unfair distribution of jobs and tribalism was tackled by Butere Girls in their infamous play ‘shackles of doom’ which attracted a mammoth crowd , periodical uproars and a standing ovation from the bewildered chanting crowd.

Peer pressure and erosion of morals in society was well handled by Laiser Hill, in their well choreographed play ‘ a funeral in heaven’ whereas The Kenya Institute of Mass Communication tackled power transitional dilemmas in their classic ‘Expandables in 3D’.
The fight for resources like land and water causes pain to both communities fighting. This was smartly tackled by Alliance Girls in their play ‘Do unto me’ which handled this theme in a delicate and intriguing way

The plight of the Girl child even in the modern day was tackled in the delightful ‘Delta of Turmoil’ by the Riara Springs. It is the story of a young girl Sanaipei’ whose future hangs on a balance when she is forced to choose between further studies abroad and marriage to a rich old man. The story, artfully told, kept the audience at the edges of their seats.
The crooked police unit and human greed were addressed in the hilarious but realistic play ‘Acts of Subterfuge’ by Nairobi Aviation College. A traffic police, wrongfully deployed to the anti-riot unit in the city, has to contend with his wife who is a hawker. He is torn in between and together with his wife, they craft a way to get out of the stalemate and this includes buying miracles.
Kisii University invokes the spirit of Achebe in fighting for the teachers rights in a solo verse ‘Unoka’ which delves into the teachers plight of poor payment by comparing teachers to Okonkwos’ father Unoka who was a very poor man in the book Things Fall Apart.

Theatre Trends.

Through this week of theatre, I couldn’t help but notice that the high school plays were of better quality than most University ones. This can be accredited to the fact that up until now, many high schools have outsourced professional playwrights to script and even direct their plays.
A chat with university drama students revealed that most universities do not support drama in their institutions. When I exclaimed disbelief at the very poor quality of a play by a private university, a student from the institution was quick to point out that the script was poor because it was written by a fellow student who lacked support from the university administration. I was left wondering whether good scripting is made up of pure talent or a supportive administration.
Even with the close of the celebrated festivals a few questions linger in my head.
With Thursdays’ ban of external playwrights in high schools, what quality of plays we are likely to see at the nationals come 2014?
Since some universities are unwilling to support drama clubs, could it be true that the modern higher learning institution is more bent on profit making than on producing respected thinkers and scholars.
With the coming out of unafraid controversial playwrights, could this be the renaissance of the Kenyan Theatre we have been awaiting for so long?
The writer is a teacher, trainer and blogger at http://www.glominage.wordpress.com twitter@mwanigaminage

Life Lessons from the Olympics

By Gloria Mwaniga

Looking up the origin of the Olympics a while back, it amazed me to find out that the earliest recorded Olympic competition, which occurred in 776 B.C. was won by a cook named Coroebus.
A cook? I wondered to myself.

As I went ahead looking at the Olympics history, I found a number of life lessons that we should keep in mind even as we traverse this life journey.

1. It’s never written in stone.

In the past, only freeborn men and boys could take part in the Olympic Games. Women were forbidden, on penalty of death, even to see the Games.
In 396 B.C however, a woman from Rhodes successfully defied the death penalty. When her husband died, she continued the training of their son, a boxer. She attended the games disguised as a man and was not recognized until she shouted with joy over her son’s victory. Her life was spared because of the special circumstances and the fact that her father and brothers had been Olympians.
In life, no matter what the rules are, always keep it mind that it is not written in stone. Give yourself credit by believing your creativity is good enough to produce something new.

2.The greatest of all

The greatest athlete of the ancient Games was Milo of Croton, a wrestler who lived in the 500’s B.C. He won the wrestling crown six times, and he was said to be so powerful that he could carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders.
Next time you doubt your strength as a human, just think. If a human could carry a grown up live bull on his shoulders, what can’t we humans, in our most persistent state, do?

3.Looking for inspiration

The ancient Olympic Games also honored, and inspired, artists.
The poet Pindar wrote many odes in praise of the Games’ winners. The Olympic buildings were prime examples of the beauty of Greek architecture, and the remains of Zeus’ great statue bear the signature of the famous Athenian sculptor and architect Phidias. Like the athletic champions, artistic champions were awarded olive wreaths and great acclaim.
Thought you as an ‘artist’ and have nothing to do with ‘outdoor sporty stuff? Think again. Inspiration can be triggered anywhere at any time. Just be keep enough to identify it.

4.Lean back to enjoy life.

Sparta was famous for the strict military training of its citizens. But it would wait until the games were over before sending fighters into battle. Other cities followed this example and hence they enjoyed peaceful periods of fun and friendship. Athletic competitions became so important to the Greeks that the Olympic festivals were a peaceful influence on the warlike city-states.
Even as we work hard and fight to keep up with the current Times and busy schedules, we should always know when to take a rest and just lean back to enjoy life.

5.Life’s not always a competition.

The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.