Child neglect and school capitation feature in Nairobi drama festival

Lakewood Academy in a play Tuzo Lydia Anjira during the 2023 Kenya National Schools and Colleges Drama and Film Festivals. [George Orido, Standard]

Students this week delivered memorable performances that entertained and educated audiences during the ongoing Nairobi drama festivals.

The topics ranged from corruption, child neglect, poor capitation disbursements to schools and other social ills.

Through dance, drama and poetry the display fostered a deeper understanding of the responsibilities and challenges faced by students, parents and society in day-to-day life.

A play by Ofafa Jericho High School, Inked Innocence, delved into the realm of parental neglect of teenagers.

It highlighted the importance of parental involvement in their children's lives.
In the play, Alex is the main character, whose parents are preoccupied with their work leading to abandonment and alienation.

Alex turns to tattooing, each representing part of his untold story.

Scripted by Vincent Okari, the narrative serves as a reminder of the necessity of understanding and supporting the emotional needs of young people. 

Another play by the school delved into scarce distribution of resources to schools.

In their narrative 'Top Layer' they illustrated how scarce funding continues affecting learners, leading to poor performance.

Play is scripted by Okari and directed by Anthony Thuo.

'Top Layer' also shows how corrupt cooks colluding with prefects deny students the rightful meal in the school.

"The little that is available is chopped off and comes in staggering, denying learners opportunity to stay in school," Okari said.

This, he said, leaves principals with a huge burden of maintaining the learners in schools.

State House girls took to stage with their eye-catching solo verse, My Plight.

The verse addressed the woes children go through silently, swallowing the pain which has given rise on suicide cases amongst teenagers.

The narration calls for parental guidance and involvement in wellbeing of their children.

Kenya High School brought down the stage in a cultural creative dance, 'Ai Kan Si' (I can see).

Huruma girls in their solo verse 'Chain of Bondage' narrated the challenges schools go through in the provision of essential services, including learning materials and health services as a result of poor funding.

Jamuhuri High School in their cultural creative dance 'Vulahi Vwa Masomo' (importance of education) said learning has been hampered by poor resources.

Precious Blood Riruta in a cultivating narrative 'Signing Off' depicted how pension funds benefit other people away from the owners.

"Tremah Ekai painfully raised issues about how retired teachers' money is swindled by barmaids, and alcohol sellers leaving teachers vulnerable.

Precious Blood Riruta also staged 'Symphony of Hatred' which indicates the effects of social media and its influence in schools.

In the play, casters describe how what is meant to be technological advancement has continued to affect students in schools.

Sunshine Secondary School in their Flower Farm narrative brought out how in the vineyard the most precious plant is denied fertilizer to feed weeds.

The plant is then uprooted leaving the weeds space to sprout. 

Sunshine Secondary also staged a Modern Dance, The Whispers of Healing and the Choral Verse 'Silabasi.'

The theme for the festivals is fostering digital transformation through film and theatre. 

Some 54 schools drawn from the eight sub-counties are taking part in six six-day event that will end on Saturday.

Winners will represent the region at the national drama festivals to be held in Embu in April.

Vincent Akuka, the Nairobi Region drama chairman, said students have been staging thrilling performances trying to pass various information on what affects them. 

''Students are using the stage to ventilate what affects them. There are more moral lessons we gather here as leaders,"

He said the festivals have seen students perform different genres ranging from choral verses, plays, modern dances, comedy, spoken word, and narratives.

"The festivals besides espousing talents also enhance learning and discipline," Akuka added.

Buruburu girls, cultural creative dance, 'Jalupo', is scripted by Patrick Ngere and Jeran Etale and highlights how corruption has taken root in society.

The dance depicts how the vulnerable are extorted at place of work in favour of promotion or job opportunities.

Using women selling fish as imagery, the dance highlights the challenges that have to encounter in order to gain the favours.

Dagoretti High School in their presentation of choral verse, Two dreams in a Bedsitter, dives in a harrowing experience for employees to acquire decent housing.

A family goes through the throws of life in a densely populated city estate dreaming about how life could be with the government initiative of affordable housing.

The hopes and aspirations of this family, as narrated by the son, Otis; are unveiled through two dreams.

The play is scripted by Wafula Nabiswa, Joseph Mwella and Hudson Wafula and produced by John Kairu Ndathe.

Other schools that presented Include Nairobi School with Play, Veiled Vision, Nembu Girls with Narrative, Trufosa, and Precious Blood with Narrative, Signing off.

Ruthimitu Mixed with Modern Dance, The Radical, as Ruai Girls performed modern dance, Into the Deep.

Ndururuno Secondary had a modern dance, The Golden Treasure, Our Lady of Mercy Shauri Moyo had Spoken Word, Rossy's Story.

Moi Girls had a solo dance, Street Girl, Garden Estate, comedy, Kutoka Mbali.

Another thrilling performance was staged by Shadrack Kimalel secondary school, cultural creative dance, titled 'Imbalekha' (polygamy) and their comedy, Man of God.