A trip back in time, and a chance to reflect on the wounds and scars brought forth by the turbulent eras that blot our country’s past. Written by the veteran John Sibi Okumu and directed by the award-winning Martin Kigondu, Prevail Presents’ Meetings lived up to the hype.
After years of what was initially political exile abroad, fleeing torture due to his student activism during the 1982 attempted coup period, Augustus (Gibson Ndaiga) returns to Kenya after years in the United States. He is back with his son Samora (Cosmas Kirui), who has lived his entire life in the US and finds Kenya exciting, exploring the ways of life at home with the help of his uncle, Julius (Emmanuel Mulili).
Augustus’ return is not only for him to rekindle and expose his son to his roots, but also to meet his daughter, Faoulata (Red Brenda), whom he only knew about from her mother, Esther (Hannah Wangare), way after he fled the country. Even though he provides for her needs, he is burdened by the fact that he wasn’t present. Faoulata is set to marry Zeke, short for Ezekiel (Steve Gitau), son of Meshack Mshamba (Ben Tekee), an old friend and university roommate whom Augustus suspects is the one who ratted them out to the authorities. A village boy, Meshack evidently resented Augustus’ confident persona and popularity back in campus.
Enter Gran, mother to Augustus and Julius, and grandmother to Samora and Faoulata. She is the family matriarch and arranges a get-together in celebration of Faoulata and Zeke’s relationship with the families from both sides in attendance. Marianne Nungo’s depiction of Gran was warm, humorous and reassuring especially towards her grandchildren.
At the get-together, commotion ensues after a drunk Julius visits their collective pasts, pointing out the possibility that the now-successful Meshack was an informer. He also rants about being left behind, ostracised by society and neglected at home, always playing second fiddle to his elder brother.
In Meetings each character wonderfully brought their own story of trauma from either the attempted coup, the resultant repressive eras or the disastrous post-election violence of 2007/08. The generational conflict was eloquently brought out in conversations between Zeke and his father Meshack as well as in Faoulata’s project to rewrite historical accounts of our past.
Then there’s Samora’s excited outlook to this bright country, quite in stark contrast to the weary Julius. Emmanuel Mulili’s portrayal of a broken Julius was one to empathise with, from his light-hearted bond with his nephew Samora and bitter recollections of the past with his brother Augustus. He is a man who the past has refused to desert.
To enact the tense and also upbeat atmospheres in the piece, Abu Sensei‘s sound design came in handy, with the behind-the-scenes technical team, namely, Joy Munee (Production Manager), Mildred Kendi (Stage Manager ), Shiro Waweru (Assistant Stage Manager), Wangari Gitau (Production Design and Props assisted by Sam and Leo on Carpentry), Ambrose Kimani (Sound on Set), and Charles Steven (Lighting), ably delivering the dramatic moments.
This was a beautifully written and rich story which leaves one yearning for more. Follow Prevail Presents on their social media platforms via the Links below and be up to date with what they might have in store next. https://www.instagram.com/prevailpresents/ https://www.facebook.com/PrevailPresents?mibextid=ZbWKwL
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