By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published May 22, 2014
It is International Women’s Day. This is the time when the mass media usually focus on the progress made by women; a time when acres of space is devoted to women who are scaling heights in the social, political and economic spheres of life. On this ‘Women’s Day’, a woman who has ‘succeeded’ in heading a family marries several men to symboise her success. However, she reverts to her role as a house wife the following day and her first husband throws his rivals out of his home.
In another incident, a major football match ends in a goal-less draw forcing the head of the federation of football—not the referee through a penalty shoot-out—to declare the winner.
The two incidents highlighted above are starting to happen with regular frequency on the Uganda theatre scene as thespians pick the ‘big newspaper stories’ and give them a humorous spin.
Called ‘Newspaper Theatre’—remember this is the country that invented an art form called VJ that translates, interpretes and commentates on videos for the benefit of viewers during screening!)—the practice involves the picking of the big stories from the leading local newspapers and giving them a comic spin with improvised theatre techniques.
A group that is taking to this trend is Foursum Foundation whose creative director and actor, Rogers Williams Mpaata, tells ArtMatters.Info: “The main inspiration behind our shows is the lack of creativity and uniqueness in the entertainment industry. Most theatre productions and stage performances in Kampala are so similar and monotonous, forcing us to go for something new; something that makes a difference and creates a new buzz.”
Mpaata adds: “We also want to create a show that brings current affairs as presented by newspapers into new life, but a life that can be seen in new dimensions.”
Some of the top news headlines that have provided fodder to Foursum Foundation include
the nationwide outcry in Uganda in 2013 when it emerged that each Member of Parliament was to get a new tablet computer courtesy of the tax payer (“Tablet MPs”); the Anti-Gay Bill that was signed into law by President Yoweri Musevenin in 2014 (“Gay vs Anti-Gay match”); and Kabaka (King) Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II of Buganda’s marathon to raise money to fight fistula (“Fistula Fight”).
But perhaps the play that is likely to send you into bouts of laughter is The skit “Etafali of Busoga” (building brick of Busoga) that is derived from the various campaigns to raising money for the rebuilding of the famous Kasubi Royal Tombs of Buganda Kings – a World Heritage Site which was nearly destroyed in a fire on March 16, 2010—by the Prime Minister of Buganda Kingdom. Though the Premier accepts the physical building bricks from the Basoga, he insists on being given ‘etafali’ in cash. This angers his hosts because, they argue, his fundraising campaign is titled ‘Etafali’ (a brick), not money!