Video:Play draws full house as it takes centre stage after court lifts ban

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Butere Girls High’s controversial play Shackles of Doom got a standing ovation from the audience when it was performed in Mombasa on Sunday.

The performance, in the Aga Khan High School auditorium, came after the High Court lifted a ban that had been imposed on the play by the Ministry of Education.

Organisers of the Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festival had dropped the play from the contest, saying it went against this year’s theme of national cohesion.

Close to 3,500 people were at the venue to watch the play. Hundreds watched it from outside the hall as it was full.

Grab national title

The play was well-received, with the audience cheering time and again as it was being performed. At the end of the presentation, the audience joined in song and dance.

Shackles of Doom was in top position in the regional drama competition. It was also in position one throughout the zonal and district competitions. In light of this, the Butere Girls High students expected to grab the national title.

The play is set in an imaginary land called Kanas whose inhabitants are called the True Kanas. Their land is oil-rich but they are ignorant of this.

A delegation from another country arrives in their land and offers to marry off a beautiful woman in exchange for land where they can settle.

With great determination, the woman’s community constructs an oil refinery. Hiring of workers is biased, with the people of Kanas sidelined. Nepotism is rife.

The people of Kanas demand equal opportunity but are dismissed. Only one person is considered from their marginalised community but as a watchman.

National chairman of the drama festival Chokera Kahura  said: “I am happy Butere Girls High’s play has been performed. Let Kenyans make their own judgment about the play.”

Mombasa senator Hassan Omar said the production was well done, adding: “This is food for thought for Kenyans.”

Award-winning drama producer Joseph Murungu, however, said of the play: “It has too much propaganda at the expense of art. Art  communicates through images and not sloganeering.’’

On Sunday, the director of Quality Assurance and Standards in the Ministry of Education, Mr Mohamed Mwinyipembe, and the event’s executive secretary, Mr Sirengo Khaemba, denied media reports that they had banned televised coverage of the play.

The play is produced by Dora Okaalo and directed by Nicholas Lusuli and Marvin Oman.

At the same time, Laiser Hill Academy students on Sunday thrilled the audience with their powerful acting when they staged the play A Funeral in Heaven.

This is a play on the morality of youths in institutions of higher learning. Sylvia Gachuhi, Zak Matasi and Joy Mburu were outstanding in their acting.

The play was written by Anthony Kirimi and Lilian Madigo.

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