Saturday, August 14, 2021
WANGARI MAATHAI STAGE PLAY TURNED INTO BOOK
THE TALKING OF TREES is a stage play about the life, death and legacy of Prof. Wangari Maathai. It was written by Alexander Nderitu between 2017 and 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for staging the play were shelved indefinitely. However, the playwright has decided to release the script as paperback book.
Title: THE TALKING OF TREES
Author: Alexander Nderitu
Year of publication: 2021
PRE-ORDER the book for a discounted price of Kshs 800 (RRP is Kshs 1,000). Distribution starts at the end of August 2021. For more information, call +254 764192563, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
To give you a glimpse of what's in the book, below is a sample scene:
SETTING: 1989. An unidentified location. It’s not an office or house. It appears to be some kind of secret location, deliberately nondescript.
AT RISE: BWANA MAPESA aka MR. MONEY BAGS is standing CS, dressed in an expensive black business suit, white shirt, red tie, expensive gold watch, shiny black shoes and black shades. He looks like the archetypal ‘shadowy businessman’. In one of his hands is a large, rolled-up document, like a calendar. He looks at his wrist watch and then at SR - he’s clearly expecting someone.
After a few beats, BWANA FISI enters from SR. He’s dressed in a dark suit but blue tie. BWANA MAPESA lights up on seeing him.
(opening his arms as he approaches)
Bwana Mapesa! Sorry to keep you waiting, my friend!
No problem, my brother! Good to see you!
(They hug like old friends. They are clearly as thick as thieves - mainly because they ARE thieves, gobbling up public resources for personal gain!)
Do you have the updated blueprint?
(rolls open the large document)
I have it right here. Everything according to your instructions. Say good-bye to Uhuru Park!
(BWANA FISI holds one edge of the blueprint while BWANA MAPESA holds the other as they pore over the design.)
This is where the main building will be (points somewhere on
the document). Sixty-two storeys high. Tallest building in Africa.
A fitting tribute to His Excellency.
Exactly. This here will be the entry point (indicates) and this will be the exit (indicates). Parking space for two thousand vehicles. Outside the tower, here (indicates), there will be a statue of President Moi, four storeys high.
Even bigger than Kenyatta’s!
Much, much bigger! Inside the tower will be the headquartersof ruling Party, KANU; the Kenya Times newspaper; officesfor rent; a trading center; shopping malls; an auditorium and galleries.
Marvelous. Looks like it’s going to be a fine and magnificent work of architecture. His Excellency will love it!
Now, let’s get right to the nitty gritties. Can the gov’t raise the roughly Kshs 4 billion it will take to turn this dream (indicates the blueprint) into a reality?
Have no fear, my brother! We can get financing very easily from the West. With the Cold War getting more and more competitive, Western gov’ts are falling over themselves trying to forge political, cultural, and economic ties with African states so that we will not go over to the Communist side. Why do you think the West didn’t make a fuss when Pio Gama Pinto was assassinated? What do they care about a Socialist muhindi? They like democrats with a capitalistic bent. Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere would have a tough timetrying to raise this kind of money from Western gov’ts or financial institutions. What was he thinking when he went for Socialism? By the way, did you know he once referred to Kenya as a man-eat-man society?
(rolling up the blueprint and holding it like a relay buton)
Flattery will get him nowhere.
Luckily, we are not Communists or Socialists. In fact, we have the best democracy money can buy. The West needs Kenya. We are so strategically located in terms of geo-politics that they will do almost anything to keep us on their side of the Iron Curtain. Just bide your time. When the money arrives, I’ll let you know. We will be breaking ground very soon!
And what about this Wangari woman? Who the hell is she?
Just some tree hugger. She wrote a letter to the MD of Kenya Times inquiring about the planned tower and protesting the commercialization of the park, saying that it’s the only green part of the city. Everyone ignored her, of course. The problem is that she started writing protest letters to everyone from the Environment Minister to the Attorney General to the United Nations and the UK Embassy. Now, that really pissed us off. Parliamentarians castigated her immediately. How dare she write to foreign powers? Are we under colonialism? MPs have already condemned her right inside the National Assembly. They could not see why some divorced woman and her band of rural womenfolk were criticizing national development projects. They really had fun laughing at her until the Speaker called the House to order.
Ridiculous! If people want to see trees and lakes then let them go back to the boondocks. The city is for money-makers and politicians. That is why it is called the ‘capital city’. Capitalism. You capitalize on it...If some people are not interested in making money, then they can stay in the reserves and grow potatoes. Who cares if Kenya becomes a country of ten millionaires and ten million beggars, as J. M. Kariuki once said? We can’t all be rich. The Rich need the Middle Class to do most of the work and pay most ofthe taxes. And we need The Poor in order keep the Middle Class in check.
Brilliant analysis. I don’t even know what J. M. was complaining about. He was a rich man himself! A landowner!
How did this Wangari woman find out about our plans anyway?Is she in gov’t?
No, she’s a conservationist. Obviously some saboteur leaked the information to her. Maybe she’s using activism to launch a political career. But in that case, she’s playing second fiddle - didn’t the president himself burn millions of shillings worth of poached ivory in front of the world’s eyes? He proved that he is the top conservationist in the continent!
Actually, I wasn’t too happy about that. There’s no need to murder money. Since the tusks cannot be returned into the dead elephants, it would have been better to just sell them and then invest the money in development projects.
Point taken. And don’t worry about the mad conservationist. If she keeps running her mouth, she will find out what Uganda’s admirable president, General Idi Amin, meant when he said that ‘There is freedom of speech but we can’t guarantee freedom after speech’!
You and I are a mutual admiration society.
I concur. And, talking of women, tell me something about that hot, light-skinned secretary of yours.
Oh, she’s very good!
(gives a knowing wink)
British-educated. Speaks several languages but prefers the language of money. Hobbies include swimming, travelling and long, romantic walks to the bank...But don’t worry about the money angle - continue pushing gov’t contracts my way and I’ll make sure you also become super rich. You will be picking up real estate like monopoly pieces. You will be able to use companies like contraceptives. You will play with vehicles the way you played with toy cars as a child. And, of course, you will be able to support as many wives and mistresses as your heart desires!
Bwana Mapesa, it’s a pleasure doing business with you!
(extends his hand)
(shaking BWANA FISI’s hand)
Bwana Fisi, the pleasure is all mine!
(After the handshake, BWANA MAPESA exits SL while BWANA FISI exits SR)
(END OF SCENE)