Butere focus spotlight on cops brutality

Michael Muraya @Michael_muraya

More action unfolded yesterday at the ongoing Kenya National Festival as teams battled it out to book a slot at the national winners’ gala that will take place next week.

Opening the stage yesterday at Lenana High School—where secondary schools are staging their performances— was Laiser Hill Academy from the Rift Valley region who performed a play entitled, The Acid. Marifano Secondary School came after Laiser and awed the audience with electric dance moves as they jigged through their modern dance entitled, The Able Disabled.

The last presentation in the morning session was a play by Kegonge Boys’ High School that highlighted the plight of retired army officers. The play, called Miscourage, laid bare the tribulations of veterans who get injured in war and are released from service upon returning back home.

It revolved around the story of Courage, a war veteran who was injured and subsequently let off the force with promises of compensation. However, thanks to corrupt officials, Courage is not paid a cent for his service, leaving him and his family suffering in the same country he bled for.

The play was written by Howard Lumumba and the cast included Gylian Ikocha as Courage and Kizito Mugambi as Mrs Courage. But it was a play staged in the afternoon by Butere Girls that left the audience waxing lyrical about its overall achievement.

Drama is the mirror of the society, so the saying goes, and it is through this mirror that Butere painted a grim picture of police brutality in the aftermath of the August 8 General Election and re-ignited memories of the tragic dorm fire at Moi Girls Nairobi last year, in a play entitled, It is Well.

The play is set in a slum called Soweto, where a man named Jethro lives with his wife and their school-going daughter named Rhoda. Jethro and his wife are crippled, being victims of police brutality after the duo was shot by anti-riot police officers during a demonstration in the slum.

Due to their situation, the couple is unable to educate their daughter. However, windfall beckons when Jethro’s brother offers to help since he works as a teacher in a school—that only admits daughters of police officers.

After a lot of coercing, the school’s principal admits Rhoda but since she is not a daughter of a police officer, she is told to maintain a low-profile in the school.

All seems to run smoothly in her new school, until Rhoda declares her intention to contest for the position of the head girl, challenging the school’s most feared girl Alexa, who is the daughter to the Inspector General. Alexa threatens Rhoda and calls her a slum girl who has no place in a school that is exclusively meant for daughters of police officers.

Alexa further warns Rhoda against contesting for the head girl and reminds her that she is the daughter of the Inspector General. But Rhoda insists on vying, something that not only puts her on the coalition path with Alexa’s crew but also the principal and her uncle since she promised to maintain a low profile.

Things take an ugly turn one night when Alexa and her crew rough up Rhoda calling her an outsider and kick her out of the dormitory. Rhoda sits under a security light reading her book, something that angers Alexa who says, “She looks so comfortable!

Let us switch off the security light so that she stays in the dark and learns her lesson.” So, she gangs up with her crew to alter with the wiring at the fuse box and switch off the security light.

But instead, the fuse box blows up and sets the dorm on fire, with all the students—except Rhoda—trapped inside! Drama ensues as police officers rush to the neighbouring Soweto slum to plead with the residents to help them put off the fire but the locals refuse citing the brutal treatment by the police towards them during the demonstrations.

One slum dweller says, “You people came to the slum and shot a young boy playing in the balcony, killing him. And you expect us to come to your aid now?

Let them die!” What followed was a riveting yet tragic tale that pitted a brutal police force against agitated civilians during a time of tragedy, forcing them to abandon the revulsion and save the young children from the dorm fire. The play was scripted and directed by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.

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