When Francis Imbuga, Yusuf Sserunkuma, and Okiya Omtatah Okoiti set out to write their plays, none of them knew that they were tackling the same issues and would be studied by students in Uganda for 5 years. Starting 2020, The Snake farmers will be studied at A level while The return of Mgofu and Voice of the People will be studied at O level in the optional subject, literature. Being optional definitely makes one think that few students will be exposed to the very rich writing, but more than 50,000 new students will read these books each year.
Why am I talking about just these three books?
Well, as a Director, I have directed Voice of the people since 2015 and performed the character of boss for 5 years. This is one of the most amazing plays I have done, for starters because the writer communicates too much using only four characters without ever boring. This play has seen some actors black out on the stage because they couldn’t remember their lines or because their co-actor was so good. Voice of the people talks about corruption and the very bad things that leaders do either directly or under misguidance of their so-called advisers. Boss and his right hand man Sibuor end up getting rewarded for their actions.
Snake farmers was written and published way before its time. I am even wondering if it is the government of Uganda that put this play on the syllabus. Why? Yes, we have snake farmers in the play but we had Corvid-19 farmers in Uganda in 2020 and 2021. I laughed myself silly the first time I read this play and wished to shake the hands of Yusuf Sserunkuma. He saw way ahead of his time and the actors too are loving putting this on the stage, too much learning for the students.
The Return of Mgofu by Francis Imbuga speaks of ethnic violence and we all know it is not new in our country. It also speaks of the role of leadership in creating peace and harmony, forgiveness among other things. But what caught my attention most is the ethnic troubles caused by the very leaders that should be guarding their people against them. We all know how certain leaders all over the country are fueling the same ethnic message which might lead us to ethnic wars and troubles if we are not careful.It has a very good ending where a leader seeks to bring reconciliation and success among his people.
We shall be staging these plays alongside other plays for literature students. and we have a lineup of very good performers. Among the other plays we will perform includes; The Heart Soothers, Oedipus the King, The Country Wife, and stage adaptations of Chinua Achebe‘s Things fall apart and and Lawrence Darmani‘s The Grief Child