Youth theatre tells street life


Published on 31/01/2009

By Phares Mutembei

“Hear we shout

For we whisper

No one hears…”

This was the “shouting” that thrilled Kibera recently as former street children from Thika took theatre to Makina and Laini Saba areas, performing plays and monologues.

Hundreds of children and adults who turned up for the show were taken through the life of a street child in an educative play titled Chokora.

In Chokora, a habitually drunken father gets home from a drinking spree, carrying a beer bottle. When he gets home, he threatens his wife (Joseph Musomi) and his son (Kennedy Mungai) with a thorough beating.

The boys during action in Kibera and above they thrill the audience.

Photo: Jenipher Wanjiru/Standard

He rains kicks and blows on his hapless son. As he starts to beat his wife, his son escapes and goes to live on the streets where he joins a gang led by a commander known as Master Sugu.

The children from the Thika-based Action for Children in Conflict use theatre to speak about children living in the streets and those abused in their homes.

In the poems, the children speak of sexual abuse, beatings and all sorts of mistreatment parents and guardians subject their children to. Although they escape to the streets, life is no better there as police officers and strangers also rough up the children even without provocation.

As a result, hospitals countrywide treat abused children daily. They are beaten on the streets as they look for food. Drunken mothers and fathers neglect their children and fail to put them in school.

“These are some of the issues that can and should be tackled using the voices and experiences of those directly affected,” says Action for Children in Conflict director Eleanor Harrison.

All poems and songs tell the story of an abused child and were directed by UK playwright Christopher Howarth.

The children have been using theatre to help society understand and treat children better.

“It improves concentration skills, boosts self esteem and improves language and public speaking tools for the children who have already gone through a hard life,” says Howarth.

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