Shining the Light on Social Justice with "Shamba la Wanyama"
Article by Maureen Kasuku
1st Nov, 2023 at 2:50PM
Nairobi Performing Arts (NPAS) Director Stuart Nash has been steering the Kenyan theater scene towards social justice with a series of thought-provoking productions. Following the impactful "I Will Marry When I Want" and the intense "Betrayal in the City," Nash now moves from theatre to TV as he unveils a Kiswahili rendition of George Orwell's classic, "Animal Farm," under the title "Shamba la Wanyama."In this latest endeavor, Nash and his team at NPAS adapt Orwell's allegorical masterpiece into the Kenyan context, creating a compelling narrative set against the backdrop of the nation. "Shamba la Wanyama" serves as a satirical parable, exploring the harsh realities of life within a totalitarian society. The play unfolds themes of power dynamics, corruption, and the pervasive influence of religion, holding a mirror to Kenya's socio-political landscape.The plotJohn Karanja alias Prophet Reverend Apostle King David (likened to Farmer Jones in Animal Farm) is a charismatic prosperity gospel businessman; he's in the business of selling hope to the hopeless. Every time the economy is on its knees, he has an influx of new congregants. This year his church - the Tumaini Tabernacle of Glory for The Oppressed - has opened five new branches. He's a busy man. He has groomed his sons to take over in the future…but the future has arrived faster than he expected.Interestingly, the backdrop of censorship in Kenyan theater adds a layer of significance to "Shamba la Wanyama." In 1991, during the authoritarian Moi regime, a play with similar themes faced suppression, highlighting the ongoing struggle for free expression and dissent in the country.As "Shamba la Wanyama" makes its debut on Viusasa, Nash and NPAS offer a wider audience the chance to engage with this poignant narrative. The play stands as a testament to the enduring power of theater in confronting societal issues and sparking conversations beyond the stage. Nash's direction breathes life into the characters as they navigate their own revolution, prompting the audience to reflect on timeless questions of power, corruption, and the pursuit of freedom—a narrative that resonates with the essence of the human experience.
About The Author
Maureen is our resident cat lady and Beyoncé stan. She writes about spas, brunch and ballet recitals but has never been to any. Moonlights as a social justice activist in her spare time. She knows things and is obnoxiously opinionated on the internet but not in real life