The Kamĩrĩĩthũ theatre group enters the Kamĩrĩĩthũ polytechnic on 20 May 2022, to watch a first compilation of video interviews.
In this short excerpt, the group discusses where the open-air theatre one stood.
The structure offered seating for 3000 people, and kids would climb nearby trees to watch the performances.
Place: Kamĩrĩĩthũ Polytechnic
Date: 20 May 2022
During one of the interview sessions, Mbothu shows one of the few remaining photographs of the play,
with him as a young man performing the role of Kioi (Photo: Cupers & Kitata, 2022)
Interviewing George Kabonyi (Photo: Gitonga Mwangi, 2022)
David Njaramba Kaguura walking the filming team to the tea plantations (Photo: Gitonga Mwangi, 2022)
Told through the voices of some of its original performers and other community members, this ongoing documentary film project explores the many afterlives of the Kamĩrĩĩthũ theatre. After its establishment in 1976, the Kamĩrĩĩthũ theatre was almost immediately demolished by the Kenyan government because of its revolutionary content. It is best known for the involvement of the world-famous writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who was imprisoned and later exiled. This documentary film project looks beyond the world-famous writer and the spectacle of government repression to foreground the community’s enduring struggles for social and environmental justice. It aims to situate these struggles in the history of land, the politics of decolonization, and the urban transformation of the region since the colonial era. The project aims to offer a portrait of struggle, memory, and everyday life amongst the lasting infrastructures of colonialism in a rapidly changing Kenya.
We have currently collected over two dozen life story interviews and many hours of footage in Kamĩrĩĩthũ, Limuru, and the surrounding area, and are currently fundraising and looking for production partners to complete this documentary film project.
︎︎ Production and direction by Kenny Cupers and Makau Kitata
Research by Kenny Cupers and Makau Kitata
Filming by Gitonga Mwangi
Consultation by Sam Mbure, David Njaramba Kaguura, and James Githiga Muaura
Assistance by Ben Wanjiru, Brenda Muthoni Wamburu, Grace Wambui Mwangi.
Interviews by Maria Njeri Waweru, Salome Njeri Njane, David Njaramba Kaguura, James Githiga Muaura, Joseph Mwangi Kariuki, Geoffrey Mbothu Wachira, Moses Njiriri Mburu, Wangari Hinga, Lucy Wangui Ng'ang’a, Margaret Wairimu Ngugi (wa Mirii), Raphael Karanja Mwaniki, Sam Mbure, George Kabonyi, Alice Muthoni Karuma, Clement Warorua Kimani, David Mbugua Kinyanjui, Elizabeth Muthoni, Grace Mwangi, John Ngugi Njenga, Margaret Njeri Choru, Peter Gathii Kimani, Peter Ndungu Nganga, Serah Wangari Karanja, Esther Kute, Suki K.K. Mwendwa