Rwanda has the largest proportion of women in parliament in the world...........retweet
"Shakespeare in Swahili? Hell Yeah"
When I found out I was going to watch Shakespeare I was excited; when I found out I was going to watch Shakespeare in Swahili my hair stood on end! Shakespeare in English... alright; Shakespeare in Swahili... hell yeah!!
My twin brother had just arrived from my home country of Kenya the previous day for a two week visit so we set off to London’s Globe Theatre together!
At the gates I chatted to a fellow Shakespeare fan, I asked him why he had chosen to come to a Shakespeare play performed in Swahili. He said he was an American student who was studying hip-hop and Swahili and so ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ - or in Swahili - ‘Wanawake wa heri wa Windsor’ - was perfect.
The venue was The Shakespeare Globe in London and this play was one of 37 Shakespeare plays being performed in 37 different languages to display the universality of Shakespeare’s productions; all courtesy of the festival ‘Globe to Globe’.
The play was the work of two Kenyan production companies: ‘Bitter Pill’ and the ‘The Theatre Company Kenya’ working together. The cast was all Kenyan with the exception of the main character, ‘Falstaff’ who was played by the ever so talented Tanzanian, Mrisho Mpoto.
The play began with a powerfully melodic rendition of the Kenyan National Anthem, then bang! The show began.
The main plot is based around ‘Falstaff’ who is entrenched in his lecherous ways and woos the wives of rich men to fill his con-artist pockets with wealth. His two targets are Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford (The Merry wives of Windsor), but little does Falstaff know that these two rich women share notes.
The play – whilst retaining its’ original structure – also played on the cultural nuances of Swahili culture. For example, the women were witty, comical and scheming and use typical mannerisms from the region, whilst Falstaff beats his chest like the big man he thinks he is.
In the end, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford’s game-plan works out very well amidst all the rib-cracking scenes that at times left my brother and I slapping our thighs in appreciation of the well-dramatised comedy.
We left the Shakespeare Globe feeling lighter and happier than when we arrived and for sure, the play got a five-star rating from me – you gotta love Shakespeare!... And you REALLY gotta love Shakespeare in Swahili.
The Globe to Globe Festival runs until June 2nd for more information and to purchase tickets go here
Hassan Wanini was born in Kenya and grew up both in Kenya and Botswana. He now lives in the UK and is passionate about Africa and the diaspora.
Creativity and innovation- are happening everyday across Africa, I'll be writing about the most exciting developments in our favourite contintent
What do you think? Comment below.