|Preport by Ogova Ondego
Pictures by Jenny Horrocks Published May 12, 2007
A Kenyan has scraped through to third prize in a tightly-fought BBC playwriting competition that appeared to be a Nigerian affair. OGOVA ONDEGO reports.
This year, BBC says, the standard of submissions was higher than ever and the judge, Nigerian theatre director Olusola Oyeleye, found it so hard to choose just four from the shortlist of 12 that she nominated an extra three for special mention.
The special nominees (who included two Nigerians and a Zimbabwean) were Echo in the Street by Bode Asiyanbi, and A Dangerous Voyage by Olusanya Kolawole Oluwaseyi, and Footprints in the Sand by Blessing Musariri.
The three winners were A Bull Man’s Story by 27-year-old Nigerian Abubakar Adam Ibrahim in the first place, A Time for Justice by Anne Uren of Botswana in second place and The Proposition by Jide Afolayan from Nigeria and The Game Plan by Crystal Ading from Kenya shared the third prize.
Besides these winning four plays, Lamentations and Rainbows in which four Sierra Leonean poets share the poems they wrote during their country’s bitter civil war and re-live the experiences that inspired them, shall be broadcast in the six-week African Performance season that kicked off with The Game Plan on April 26, 2007.
“I always dreamed of having a career in writing and now I believe the dream is possible,” said Crystal Ading when she was told she had won a joint third prize in the BBC’s annual African Performance Play Writing Competition.
On what inspired her to pen The Game Plan, Ading told BBC: “When people see a mixed race couple here in Kenya, everyone assumes that if it is a black woman she is either a prostitute or a gold digger. I wanted to show that there can be genuine relationships based on love.”
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Each year hundreds of BBC listeners from across Africa enter their scripts for the competition.
“The Game Plan” is a dramatic love story which tells the tale of Dinka, the feisty daughter of a well-connected and dictatorial father. Dinka is in love with a white man, and her father is appalled at the relationship, given that his own wife left him for a white man. He succeeds in marrying Dinka off to Dr Toma, his protégé but there is a twist in this tale. For his own manipulative reasons, Toma allows her to see the man she loves.
“The Game Plan,” starring Nini Wacera, (better known for her roles in Dangerous Affair film and Wingu la Moto TV show , Packson Ngugi, Keith Pearson and Kariuki Thige, kicked off the six-week African Performance Season on April 26, 2007. The BBC African drama season is on air at 16.30 GMT every Thursday.
Ading, the author, is 25 years of age and lives with her husband Adrian Njagi, and their baby, Nicola Makena, in Ngong Hills town on the outskirts of Nairobi. She works as a freelance editor of children’s books for the Oxford University Press in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
She attended Lang’ata Junior Primary School, Precious Blood Secondary School in Riruta, and Andrew Crawford Media Training School where she studied radio production. She later went to University of Eastern Africa, Baraton where she studied literature and music, before taking up internship at Kwani Trust.
Ading says she has always had the urge to write from her childhood.
Ading first entered her play in the BBC African Performance competition in 2006. Although her entry, “Showcase”, didn’t win, BBC producer Alice Martin wrote her an encouraging letter, and she decided to give it another go.
Despite working away from home at the moment Ading flew back home to watch BBC producer Jenny Horrocks direct and record her play on location at the BBC Monitoring unit in Karen, Nairobi.
“It was amazing to see the characters I had written come alive before my very eyes” she said.
Horrocks was very impressed with the acting talent in Kenya.
Ibrahim’s A Bull Man’s Story is a script tackling domestic violence that BBC describes as “a simple but powerful drama” portrayal of “an all too common theme with freshness and emotional truth.”
The play demonstrates the impact of domestic violence on a child and is narrated by nine-year-old Mohamed Mansaray. It reveals the confusion, hurt and anger he feels as he witnesses his once gentle father turn into a ‘bull man’.
Ibrahim tells BBC he wrote the play because he felt that the effect on children of domestic violence is not sufficiently recognised in Nigeria.
Ibrahim has written stories since childhood but it was the African Performance competition that spurred him on to start writing seriously.
He’s entered several times before, but only ever received encouraging letters. He says he’s going to spend his prize money on a new computer so he can write more easily.
Botswana-based South African Uren’s A Time for Justice explores the impact that an internationally famous Western anthropologist has had upon his family and upon the Bushmen of Botswana, amongst whom he has been living and working most of his life.
Uren, mother of two grown-up children, runs a camp for tourists and organises wild life excursions for them. Uren says she is deeply concerned about the plight of the Bushmen and wanted to highlight the damage that can be done by insensitive