Thursday, 14 November 2019


                                                    Xavier Ywaya and Pauline Kyalo in TEFB's Tom Mboya edition

By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 14 November 2019)

While some theatre-lovers were preoccupied with the KITFEST2019, others were holding their breath, hopeful they would get tickets to see one of the two most highly anticipated shows of the year.
Both Too Early for Birds’ ‘Tom Mboya Edition’ and Francis Imbuga’s ‘Aminata’ have been performed before, ‘Mboya’ much more recently than the Imbuga classic. But both shows were eagerly awaited, although for very different reasons.
TEFB’s Tom Mboya edition was just staged at Oshwal Centre a little more than a month ago. But TEFB fans can never get enough of their productions, not since they took off officially in 2017, started by Ngartia Brian and Abu Sense. Their mixture of history, storytelling, music and physical comedy together with their millennial sensibility and joyful passion for theatre has also drawn marvelous casts into an ensemble that always bubbles and pops with vitality, charm and witty truth telling.
                                   TEFB founders & storytellers Abu Sense and Ngartia in the Tom Mboya Edition

The Tom Mboya Edition was no exception to TEFB’s rule of bring a righteous revelatory and witty mix to the Kenyan stage. Mboya had already taken on mythic qualities before we watched the show. But the facts about the man were mostly blurred until TEFB came out with their well-researched rendition of the man who might have become president if he had lived to try.
Mboya’s magic was well portrayed by Xavier Ywaya who was able to match the Mboya charm that had impressed everyone from Martin Luther King, Jr and John F Kennedy to Miriam Makeba and a multitude of other women. But as well-told as Mboya’s story was, it was the TEFB storytellers whose infectious appeal is what made audiences clamor to see their show again.

‘Aminata’ didn’t have the same current appeal as TEFB’s Mboya since the play has hardly been performed since its premiere at the United Nations International Women’s Decade Conference in 1985. But that’s one big reason to applaud Strathmore Drama Society for reviving the play which feels even more timely, relevant and truthful now than back then.
One has to ask why Kenyan thespians didn’t revive ‘Aminata’ before? Francis Imbuga’s wife, Dr Mabel said it had been staged several times since ’85 but mostly as in-school productions. Strathmore’s Aminata was staged at Alliance Francaise and was as good, if not better than its premiere. That’s saying a lot since the original cast were Kenyan veteran thespians. But Strathmore’s was polished, professional and impressively gender-sensitive, thanks to Imbuga.

No comments:

Post a comment