Kampala, Uganda – In a gesture of honor, respect, and promoting of theater activities, Uganda National Culture Center which is also known as the National Theatre will this month bring back on stage old plays that rocked back in the day.
These will be plays written by prominent Uganda playwrights who cut a niche then and promoted theater with their mastery of performing arts that formed a strong foundation on which today’s crop of theatricals are thriving.
To start with, Wycliffe Kiyinji’s Muduuma Kwe Kwafe will be premiered first on 14 February (on Valentine’s Day) ahead of other notable big stage plays like Ndiwulira and other stage plays that are credited with shaping the direction of theater in the country.
Muduuma Kwe Kwafe rotates around residents of Mudduma village who sell their cotton only to Murji, an exploitative Indian trader in the area.
The play explores the synergies, plots, and courage the farmers undertook to gain their financial dependence bringing an end to Murji’s exploitation.
The story of Kiyingi’s plays tells of how World War II veterans return influenced Muduuma residents into pushing for their own independence so as to manage their own finances like in the western countries they had fought in.
Meanwhile performing artists, writers and artists have expressed their displeasure towards the government’s continued use of their materials without giving them credit and financial benefits.
Kiyinji, 90 years old now, possibly one of Uganda’s best playwrights, says has never earned a penny from his popular books that have been adopted ministry of education into the national teaching and examination syllabus.
Bakayimbira’s Benon Kibuuka who is still active in theater works says neither the Uganda National Examination Board nor the Ministry of Education has provided any form of support for authors of the material they adopt for the syllabus.
“The ministry doesn’t have an arrangement of compensating authors for their creations,” he says.
The unhappy artists cite the example of Prof. George William Kakoma, the man credit with composing the Uganda National Anthem who lived a miserable life despite his antique statue in the country’s history.
Francis Peter Ojeda, the Executive Director, Uganda National Cultural Centre, said that they are going to work on the fact that this exploitation stops immediately.
“We want to talk with the ministry responsible to see to it that they start respecting Copyright,” he says adding that writing a book takes time and money thus can’t just be adopted without any sort of arrangement. Uganda culture is one of the major Uganda tourism attractions in addition to wildlife and mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga National park.