Jalada Africa and Ngugi wa Thiong’o were the big literary winners at Kenya’s Sanaa Theatre Awards 2016 hosted at the Kenya National Theatre on 14th December 2016.
There was a celebratory mood at the Kenya National Theatre as the performing theatre all came together to celebrate their best at the Sanaa Theatre Awards. Also at this event, the fourth running of the awards, was the head of the Kenyan government where the arts are concerned with Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario as guest of honour.
The well attended ceremony had close to 50 categories, yes it’s a lot, started with many hoping to get awards that could be used to ensure that they get better deals in future production. The main gongs at such a ceremony are best actor, actress and director. This year the honour of best actress would go to June Gachui for her performance in Three Fold Cord while best actor went to Maina Olwenya for A man Like You. Best director was a joint affair between Sammy Mwangi for My Fish My Choice and Hillary Namanje for Don Geronimo.
This is a literary blog so the main interest for us was the more literary stars and there was no shortage of these. The best playwright honours went to Kuldip Sondhi for his show Don Geronimo which was performed at the Little Theatre Club in Mombasa.
Then there were the award for the best plays in various languages and these included Best Play in Kiswahili which went to Mahaba Niue written by Yussuf Dalu. The Best Play in a Foreign Language was the French one Le Gateu de Vie by Alex Wakhungu. The most familiar name to readers of this blog will be the Best Play in a Local Language which went to The Upright Revolution staged in Sheng, Kiswahili, Dhuluo, Kikuyu, Kiluhya, English and Kinyarwanda. This play was written and performed by the good people at Jalada Africa.
Then there was the award they called the Rosa Parks Award which went to the Best Spoken Word and Poetry; that gong went to 51-Nzilani for A Man on a Journey. Also getting a fancy award with the name of an American were Lupita Nyong’o, the Moipei Quartet, Odera Owiso, and Edi Gathegi. Theirs was the Distinguished Diaspora Award also known as the President Barack Obama award.
One the highlights of this award scheme is the lifetime achievement award which goes to those who have consistently brought it to their art and craft. This year that accolade went to Kuldip Sondhi, JPR Ochieng Odero, Wasambo Were, Caroline Odongo, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. The others are well known as practitioners of the theatre arts as playwrights, directors and more. The last one Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is the most famous of them all will his name being mentioned in line with Nobel Prize nowadays. He belongs here as he cowrote, with Micere Mugo, one of the most famous plays out of Kenya, The Trial of Dedan Kimathi.