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ACT SCENE: The acting journalist

Sunday February 24 2019

Aisha Mwajumlah

 

HILLARY KIMUYU
By HILLARY KIMUYU
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Who is Aisha Mwajumlah?

Aisha is a young Muslim lady who believes that, if you haven’t tried to do something then you have no right to say, or even think, that it’s impossible.

How did losing your parents at a young age make you the person you are today?

That made me very strong. Being the last born, I realised that I have to work harder and be very disciplined every day, because I am on my own. My older siblings have their own families so I have no room for silly mistakes. I guess that’s why people say I am strict and very straight forward.

When did you start acting and why?

I started performing on stages when I was still in primary school. I first performed in a skit. I felt the actor was not doing the role justice, so I asked the teacher to allow me to show her how I thought it should be done, and that’s how the role became mine. I have been acting ever since, though not consistently. Acting has been my scape goat; it helps me deal with my emotions and putting things into perspective.

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Can you say being a journalist has helped you in what you do?

It’s actually the other way round, acting made me a better journalist. I started acting way before I became a journalist. I even decided do journalism because of it. Now that I am almost done with my degree, some units in school are just putting somethings into perspective and I understand acting more.

How did you land your role in "Watatu"?

When I was doing my certificate course in 2011 I also started working for SAFE (Sponsored Arts For Education) Pwani; it’s an organisation that does community awareness using mobile theatre.

"Watatu"was one of the plays we performed to the coastal people to provoke dialogue along the issue of violent extremism. I was playing two roles in the stage play; a sister to the main character and the narrator/mediator of the story. And that’s how I ended up doing the two roles in Watatu the film.

Tell us about your role in “Pete”?

I play Nimimi, Mbura's wife. Mbura is the first son to Chief Dalu who dies in the second episode of the show. After Chief Dalu dies Mbura feels it is his right to be the next Chief (Kiongozi) as the first born even though, on his death bed, Chief Dalu insinuated that Jasiri should lead after him.

As the wife, Nimimi feels that her husband is being unreasonable and that Jasiri should indeed lead the people of Funzi. It is only Nimimi who can put him in check.

Nimimi's marriage is also challenged. They have been married for almost 10 years and they still have no child. It is now becoming a bigger problem because as Mbura eventually becomes the “kiongozi” he now more than ever really needs a successor.

What can you say is the difference between the entertainment industry at the coast and in Nairobi?

Mombasa is yet to be explored. However, with TV stations like Maisha Magic East promoting local content and helping viewers see programs like “Maza” and “Pete”, many producers and film makers can see the potential in Mombasa. As an artiste, I wouldn’t mind working in Nairobi. I have done a radio drama, “Jongo Love”, as Amani, which was produced by Well Told Stories, a production house in Nairobi.

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A film on Fort Jesus mystery

The film Wavamizi is a short demo to a feature film Captain of the Coast being directed by Jesse K. The demo is a test for the director to see how all departments will perform and how prepared they are before they go on to start filming the masterpiece in two years’ time.

Jesse Kyalo, who directed the film, says their aim is to try and engage the Kenyan audience on what they think and feel about this story, which is based on true events that occurred in the 1600s along the East African coastline.

“The film is a preamble to the siege of Mombasa’s Portuguese stronghold of Fort Jesus by a combined force of Omani Arabs, Mombasa locals and Zanzibaris, between 1666 and 1669, that led to the ouster of the Portuguese from the East African coast once and for all,” said Mr Kyalo.

The short film stars Ken Ambani, Brenda Wairimu, Likarion Wainaina, Joseph Omari, Zul Talaski and Bilal Wanjau; a powerful ensemble that was cast by EBE Omondi, while the feature film will feature international Hollywood stars such as Jay Abdo.

Some of the cast members of the film Wavamizi.
Some of the cast members of the film Wavamizi. PHOTO| COURTESY

Following years of rape, murder and pillaging orchestrated from their safe haven at Fort Jesus, the Portuguese become unwanted visitors on the East African coast.

The Swahili locals led by Sudi, Sultan Ali’s son, revolted against their oppressors. Unknown to them, the Sultan has been having a secret deal with the leader of the Portuguese, Captain Rodriguez, to supply him with slaves.

This he did out of pragmatism, to save his people from the illicit trade, but when his son finds out it creates a rift between them. War becomes eminent with the overthrow of the pacifist Sultan and the replacement of him by his war mongering son, Sudi.

Kyalo adds that, based on the trade that happened in the 16th century, the film will be unique because it will be a cross continental film bringing together four different cultures: Indian, Arab, Portuguese and Swahili.

The film will also capture two major religions; Christianity and Islam highlighting the differences and the influence of these religions and the cultures in Mombasa.

The film, being a period piece, will have an epic genre and will be very symmetrical, borrowing from the Indian blockbuster movie Bajirao Mastani and Martin Scorsese’s film Silence. The stand out factor about this film is that it will be the first film set to be a trilogy in Africa.

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Alexis de Vilar's black and white stories

Author, photographer and explorer, Alexis de Vilar showcased his latest works on Thursday. Celebrating the Kenyan coastline, he immortalises cultures through his inseparable camera.

Vilar has spent the past 30 years photographing distant cultures and struggling to save “untouched” peoples and the ecosystems that make up their natural habitat from the advancement of industrial society.

He works in black and white, using the traditional “silvered” technique, in which he finds poetry that fits with his desire to show only what is beautiful on Earth. His wonderful photography, is ink printed on German Hahnemühle paper.

Lisa Christoffersen, who curated his work at the Sarova Stanley, said that his passion is the East African Swahili coastline, a Swahili story which he brings out in photography.

“His black and white work jumps out and is more beautiful than if it were in colour,” she said. These heart-warming, poetic and beautiful photographs present an intimate portrayal of the coastline. When one looks at his work, there is so much in the pictures that you get lost in them.

Painter Alexis de Vilar poses for a photo next
Painter Alexis de Vilar poses for a photo next to one of his works during his art showcase at the Stanley Hotel on February 21. FRANCIS NDERITU I NATION

His images transport us and touch us; true works of art changed into something eternal, on a canvas that gives rise to emotions which go beyond two dimensions, until they acquire an ethical and aesthetic presence of unequalled value. Day to day photographs, touching landscapes, traditional tribes, faces, and amazing and heart-warming values, behind the lens.

As an author, he has written several novels, essays, travel books and innumerable press articles that have been published in some of the noteworthy newspapers and magazines in Europe, Africa and the United States.

As a photographer his work is the object of individual exhibitions in art galleries and museums in Africa, Asia and America.

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