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Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s most controversial play returns to Kenya after 30 years

Acclaimed Kenyan scholar Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s most controversial play will return to Kenyan theatres 30 years after it was banned.

I Will Marry When I Want (Ngaahika Ndeenda), which was written by Ngigi wa Mirii and Ngugi wa Thiong’o in 1977, which was very popular and ran for some time before the Kenyan authorities banned it.

BANNED

The play is currently being cast and will be produced by Nairobi Performing Arts Studio ready to show in June.

The cast will different counties, including Nairobi and Nakuru, wher the play will be staged.

The production studio has reached an agreement with Heinemann Publishers to stage the plays by the renowned African writer.

I Will Marry When I Want, is set in post-colonial Kenya and features prominent themes on hypocrisy, corruption of religion, capitalism and politics and this is why it was banned by the authorities.

The play is a comedy on love, a satire on religion and a scathing political attack.

The story starts with a Kenyan farm labourer, Kiguunda, and his wife Wangeci and their efforts to protect their small piece of land from being bought out to erect an insecticide factory.

The only thing the couple have to their name is a title deed to their one-and-a-half acres of land.

ARRESTED

The drama sympathizes with the peasant labourer examining how those who fought for Kenya’s liberation grow corrupt with power and collude with the imperialists to keep their economic foothold in the country as well as how religion and Christian missionary conspire to complicate economic challenges.

The play was first performed at the Kamiriithu Community Education and Cultural Centre, an open-air theatre at Kamiriithu in Limuru.

After it was banned Kenya, the play found an audience in the western world and was frequently read and studied in college and university classes.

On May 1, 2009, the play was performed at the University of Chicago where African and Caribbean Students Association staged to a sold-out crowd.

The play is believed to have been the cause of Miiri and Thiong’o’s arrests in December 1977.

The writers were released in December 1978 when President Daniel Moi became president following the death of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

They both went into exile with Miiri seeking refuge in Zimbabwe and Ngugi in the UK then to the US. Miiri died in 2008.