A friend once asked me what are some of the things that would attract tourists to Uganda if they are not interested in wildlife or nature? For a moment I froze as I thought about how great the question was and then it hit me.
There is so much from the rich culture to the party life to the Ugandan history, no matter how bad it is, some people are interested in the story.
Recently, I also found out that several people traveled all the way from Israel, UK, US, Kenya, Rwanda, France, and Burundi to just be part of the Kampala International Theatre Festival.
I had the opportunity to attend the festival for the first time and boy oh boy, calling it awesome would be an understatement.
The opening act which was Far Gone gave me a rush of emotions as I watched the actor tell a story of a young boy who was transformed into a child soldier after he was abducted by Kony’s Lords Resistance Army. This gut kicking performance had some audience members in tears as John Rwothomack (actor) took us on a journey of this child soldier that was forced to kill his own brother so he could survive.
This one-man play was a class act as we witnessed the actor play about 5 different personalities just to deliver a thrilling performance.
When the moon edged higher and the stars became brighter, I found myself in a very peculiar position as I tried to have a conversation with 5 different personalities I created. Believe me you, I totally confused myself, at one point I didn’t even know which personality was talking and that went on for 5 minutes before I opted to just stare at my blank ceiling.
I had never attended a musical theatre but since this festival was a blend of different arts, I got to see the Nairobi Musical Theatre Initiative put on a jaw-dropping performance. Acting out their beautiful written screenplays from the story of Kabaseke a Congolese man who couldn’t let his music passion die, to the story of Apostle Denis, a controversial church leader like many in the present day, to Pani Puri which is was about interracial marriages.
The dramatic performances by Eric Wainana, Aleya Kassam, Tetu Shani, and Laura Ekumbo among others literally had me in stitches. These guys totally sold their roles and to even imagine that some of them had just been rehearsing their lines for a few days is just fascinating.
I remember my friend and I agreed that Aleya Kassam makes a fun drunk, and mind you she wasn’t even drinking on stage that’s how believable she was to us. And don’t get me started on Laura Ekumbo, this lady was so deep in character she let a teardrop for us. “Who are we to witness such greatness?” I pondered.
There were so many other great performances like Nick Makoha’s My Father and Other Superheroes, his obsession with numbers more specifically the number 21 intrigued me. The Children of Amazi had us questioning our relationships with the natural resources given to us. Burundian group Le Larmes de Crocodile had us awestruck with the level of intensity they were willing to push themselves to. And finally, The Last Day of Spring which was a story about the life of a Palestine woman living in Israel received a standing ovation after the actress took us on an emotional rollercoaster.
The Kampala International Theatre Festival lasted 5 days and it was by far the best festival I have attended this year. So the next time you don’t feel like sightseeing around Uganda, they’re several other exciting things that can keep you engaged.