Wa Gacheru in a Comeback Mode with Ni Sisi film review

I apologize for ignoring my Blog and the sharing of my many published stories which i had vowed to regularly post on this Jua Kali Diary. I will try to catch up in the coming days. Today is Election Day and I elect to love Kenya and stand up for the righteousness of the Kenyan voters who plan to accept election results no matter what. Humble winners and graceful losers is what we need.

Meanwhile, my film review of the SAFE production of Ni Sisi never appeared in Zuqka as promised so i have to share that review here. i found the film that compelling:

NEW KENYAN FILM HAS POWERFUL AND URGENT MESSAGE
By Margaretta wa Gacheru.4 March 2013
Ni Sisi is the sort of must-see movie that every Kenyan ought to watch. Normally, I am not so judgmental or bossy, but in this case, there’s no time to beat around the bush.
The March 4th General Elections are just a hair’s breath away and everyone needs to be reminded of what’s at stake – nothing short of life and death depending on the behavior of the Kenyan people themselves.
From what we saw during that last election and all the emotion-wrought violence that ensued—some spontaneous, some premeditated, it was all quite un-necessary and also uncharacteristic of-Kenyans who by nature are not killers, gangsters or thugs.
That is just one of the messages that come through loud and clear in Ni Sisi, the latest S.A.F.E. production currently being screened at Prestige Plaza and the Village Market as well as in Mombasa and Kisumu. It’s a story that tens of thousands have already seen live when the S.A.F.E. lorry shuttled its makeshift stage all over the country over a year ago.
The original story was devised and performed by a brilliant bunch of passionate Kenyan actors who understood the power of performance and the need to use it to rouse public awareness quickly. Doing so in daring style, the cast, assisted by S.A.F.E.’s founder-director Nick Reding, told a story filled first with a rich mixture of humor, laughter and the bittersweet experience of a young girl named Roxana () who just lost her mother, who’d been raped by four men during the 2007-8 post-election violence, leaving her so traumatized, she could do nothing else but commit suicide.
Ni Sisi starts in the present-day but quickly reflects back on the devastating effects of that period when some Kenyans lost control and allowed malicious animal instincts to take charge of their bodies and minds. But part of the genius of the screenplay, drafted by Reding and based wholly on the devised live performances, is that it shameless exposes what else was at play in those darkened days when some Kenyans forgot their humanity and turned into mobsters like those we’ve seen first in Mafia-movies brought to us gratuitously from the West, and then just next door in places like Rwanda and Northern Uganda.
What’s so ingeniously exposed in Ni Sisi is just how flagrantly ordinary Kenyans were used like simple hand tools by self-serving politicians to elicit fear among the people using racial and tribal stereotypes, rumor-mongering and plenty of cash to create chaos and cause havoc that would not just kill people’s morale but kill them physically as well.
Ni Sisi does an amazing job of exposing the real enemies of peace, freedom, social justice and other essential cornerstones of Kenyan democracy. They are embodies in the character of Mzito (), a rather nasty shopkeeper who’s so ambitious and hungry for power that he’s intent on becoming a member of Parliament so that he too can take his turn to ‘eat’ the national cake.
Mzito is a mean-spirited, small-minded and manipulative guy who clearly doesn’t know the meaning of kindness, as we quickly see by the cruel way he treats his shop worker Tall () and also Roxana () who he tries to seduce. Fortunately, he fails since this girl is too wise and discerning to be tricked by a lusty bugger who could have easily raped her in the same careless and ugly style as her mother had been during the 2008 chaos.
But Mzito is ready to win the election by any means necessary. His first weapon is the rumor which he cleverly plants using a few village people who he pays as well as his Lady Macbeth-type witchy wife who’s as much of a pretender as he is.
Next, he uses seduction and emotional manipulation of Pastor Maria (), one of the three village women who start off in the film as bosom buddies who take delight in one another’s company and also shower the heart-broken Roxana with love when she comes home having just lost her beautiful mother.
At this point, I really don’t want to give the whole story away since it’s filled with suspense that I don’t want to spoil for the audiences that I insist go to see the film. But I will say the story’s delightful narrator Jabali (Joseph wa Wairimu, who also starred as Mwas in Nairobi Half Life) is just as clever and insightful as Roxana, so they devise strategies to expose Mzito who almost succeeds in twisting the minds of his unsuspecting constituents.
It is that element of manipulation of the innocent by the proud and power hungry politician that resonates in Ni Sisi. But it’s also got another important message which is that the film itself is meant to be a wake-up call to every Kenyan to not be duped into becoming either destroyers or docile sheep who are just too easily manipulated by the tools of tribalism, the tactics of ‘divide and rule’ or the tendency to believe evil men can succeed in the end.
Thanks to funding from the Dutch donor Hivos, the Minority Rights… and Safaricom, and an outstanding cast and crew of Kenyans, mostly members of the two theatre groups – S.A.F.E. Ghetto from Nairobi and S.A.F.E. … from Mombasa, the producers, Kamau wa Ndungu, Krystine … and again Nick Reding created a glorious film. It not only has marvelous cinematography and also choreography. It also cleverly splices in film clips from the live performances so that we can see the way Kenyans across the country responded to the live productions. What that enables us to watch is just how much authentic humor and fun there is in the film. We can also see how much love there is expressed among the characters themselves which is what allows them to forgive those former friends who got duped and drawn into the sinister schemes of the enemies of peace, the Kenyan people and the country’s future prosperity.
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