By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
Published February 25, 2013
“We do not just risk repeating history by sweeping it under the carpet; we also risk being myopic about our future.” This quote by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, could as well explain why filmmakers have crafted moving images on the cataclysmic events that gripped Kenya following the disputed Presidential poll in December 2007.
The latest effort is by Judy Kibinge whose 85-minute film, SOMETHING NECESSARY, screens during the 63rd monthly Lola Kenya Screen film forum at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi on February 25, 2013.
Told from the perspective of two characters, SOMETHING NECESSARY revolves around the post 2007 election violence in the signature way of films directed by Judy Kibinge, the story is told creatively and fictitiously while at the same time giving an insight of the true nature of events that took place.
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Anne, the lead characters in SOMETHING NECESSARY, is turned overnight from being a career hospital nurse with a possibly comfortable life into a destitute struggling widow with a deranged son whose future is no longer guaranteed; everything she owned with her husband is under threat of being taken away by her late husband’s family as she is considered a stranger: She is ‘Kikuyu’ while her husband, a ‘Kalenjin’, was killed during the civil unrest on their farm in Eldoret.
Joseph, the lead male actor, is presented as an ex-gang member who took part in bringing Anne to the condition she is in. This realization, apparently, draws him to Anne in an attempt to atone for his sins. The two characters, Anne and Joseph in a way stand for the political divide between President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and Premier Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement and their supporters.
Although we are aware that Anne is not a real person who suffered the violence that way, it is impossible not to question the validity and the realism in her actions. Anne, the character, has been betrayed by her society and the people she lives among can no longer be trusted. She is engaged in both a psychological and emotional fight for her property. But, strangely, the Anne we see on screen is calm, almost naïve and complacent. Towards the end of the film, when a commission of inquiry is set up to look into what led to the Post Election Violence and its effect on the people, Anne is at first reluctant to appear before it as a witness, a gesture that is questionable especially considering the amount of suffering she has gone through. When she eventually stands before the commission, the viewer is left guessing whether she addressed the committee because what we see is Anne on the podium; her mind goes into flashbacks as she breaks into tears before stepping down.
The character of Anne, like that of Joseph the lead male character, is not fully exploited. The Joseph we see is hardly a credible character capable of what he is said to have engaged in. He is hardly a developing character,a quality that is vital for a lead character. Also, despite having the potential of being a gem for Kenya, SOMETHING NECESSARY would have done much better with added special effects to appeal more to the viewer through fast-paced and more believable action.
SOMETHING NECESSARY, a co-production of Germany’s One Fine Day Films and Kenya-based Ginger Ink Films, is told in Kiswahili, Kikuyu and Nandi with English subtitles.
Judy Kibinge says SOMETHING NECESSARY was indeed a necessary thing which all Kenyans have to do in order to resolve that dark patch in their history; to examine and remember in order to move on.
The timeliness and relevance of SOMETHING NECESSARY to Kenya can never be over-emphasized, especially now when the country is approaching another delicate poll on March 4, 2013 and the world has its fingers crossed on the outcome. Many in the country are appealing for peace no matter how the elections go. The events that unfold in SOMETHING NECESSARY should caution Kenyans against engaging in violence. But will they?