Tuesday, 31 October 2017



By Margaretta wa Gacheru (margaretta.gacheru@gmail.com)

The true story of the young man who survived a heartless hit-and-run accident only to die 18 hours later outside Kenyatta National Hospital is a tale that brought many Kenyans to tears.

But for Kevin Njue, the story of Alex Madaga touched him so deeply he felt compelled to do more than merely weep. It inspired him to first write a screen play based on this home-grown Kenyan tragedy, and then to find the means to make ’18 Hours’ the film that will premier this coming week on Friday, November 10th.

At age 25, Njue is already an award-winning filmmaker. But the 2015 movie that earned him several accolades, ‘Intellectual Scum’, was a short film, just 15 minutes.

But ‘18 hours’, while being based on a true story is a full length feature film, not a film short or a documentary. So the story is not exactly the same as Madaga’s.

But as both the writer and the director, Njue has ensured the profound emotional impact of the actual experience will be felt by most people who come to see the film.

The film’s trailer, which can already be found on YouTube, will confirm that fact for anyone wishing to get a feeling for Njue’s cinematic finesse.

Casting an outstanding team of Nick Ndeda and Brian Ogola as the two para-medics committed to getting Magada (not his name in the film) the care he needs, it’s Sue Wanjiru’s performance as Magada’s emotionally distraught wife that is bound to bring one to tears.

Ndeda also gives an immensely powerful performance as the one with whom we identify as his ambulance takes the dying Magada from one inadequately-equipped hospital to the next. He’s aghast to discover how ill-prepared Kenya’s so-called emergency care units are. He’s also angry and disillusioned by the realization that however much he hopes to save the dying man, the broken nature of the country’s health care system won’t allow him to do his job.

Njue, in an interview on NTV’s The Trend, said his intention in making ’18 Hours’ was not to blame or point accusing fingers at anyone. But he clearly hopes to rouse awareness of the need to improve or better still, to reconstruct the system in a way that can truly save lives and not leave them to die on the streets as did Alex Madaga.  

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