Senator Malala’s play emerges top in western region - Daily Nation

Controversial senator with a passion for school drama

Saturday March 24 2018


Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula and his Kakamega counterpart Cleophas Malala in Nairobi on March 22, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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Despite his many political engagements, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala finds time to engage in his favourite pastime: writing and directing plays.

Mr Malala is passionate about promoting drama and nurturing talents of young actors.

The indefatigable lawmaker wakes up at 4am to prepare for morning rehearsals with students who are then assigned roles in his plays.

His plays are usually about the people he meets and interacts with, their aspirations and pains.

“As a politician, I interact with many people. I hear their stories. I feel their pain and analyse their aspirations. These are the very stories that I write,” Mr Malala told the Sunday Nation.

The senator has, over time, penned winning scripts despite his busy political schedule at the Senate and in Kakamega County.

And he is no stranger to controversy.

In his first term as an elected representative for Mahiakalo ward, Mr Malala became a fierce critic of Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

During a funeral in Mumias attended by opposition chief Raila Odinga in 2015, Mr Malala was involved in an altercation with Mr Oparanya, disrupting the function.

Trouble started when he accused the county boss of allowing a sugar miller to operate a weighbridge illegally.


Mr Oparanya left his seat and charged towards the MCA and snatching the microphone from him.

The governor's aides roughed up Mr Malala, sending him sprawling to the ground.

During last week’s western region drama festival at Chavakali Boys High School, Mr Malala was in the limelight when his play It is Well emerged top.

The play was performed by Butere Girls’ High School.

The lawmaker's four other plays also qualified for the Kenya National Drama Festivals finals set for Nairobi.

Former Kakamega High School Principal Oliver Minishi, an accomplished thespian is full of praises for the senator.


“Drama is about passing a message to people,” Mr Minishi said.
He added that Mr Malala had great passion for drama and devoted his time to nurturing students realise their potential as actors.

"The senator has made a lot of sacrifices, including buying costumes and other necessities for actors," Mr Minishi said.

Ms Hellen Lorraine Ateya, a teacher at Chavakali Boys’ High School, has worked with Mr Malala on stage as a script writer and director for eight years.

“He has been resourceful when preparing Kiswahili scripts for our school and directing the plays on the stage after enduring long hours of rehearsals,” Ms Ateya said.


Mr Alex Wakhungu, who directs plays in French at Kakamega High School, says Mr Malala arrives at the institution at 4.30am to take students through rehearsals.

“He would even go out of his way to invite students to his house for dinner as they discussed the plays and actors' roles. He has done everything possible to nurture and promote drama,” said Mr Wakhungu.

Mr Malala, who was last week elected the deputy Senate minority leader, after the ouster of Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula, was introduced to play and narrative production by Prof Mark Chetambe, who was the patron and narrative teacher at Friends’ School Kamusinga in Bungoma.


“Prof Chetambe gave us the opportunity to engage in play and narrative scripting at that rudimentary stage,” Mr Malala said.

“By the time I sat my KCSE examination, the passion for production of plays had been deeply entrenched in me and the drive to put my first play on stage was unstoppable,” he said.

He later set up a drama group - the New Era Thespians - in Kakamega with a view to taking theatre to the professional level in schools.

His first play to be performed at the National Drama Festivals was The Shield by Vihiga Boys High School.

It was quickly followed by The Dirge of Port Florence, Doomsday, The Last Convict and The Gospel of Father Calistus, setting the stage for other captivating scripts.


Before his election, Mr Malala wrote the Shackles of Doom, which was banned by the Education ministry in 2013 for being “politically incorrect”.

The storyline captured the brutality meted out by rogue police officers on demonstrators.

The play demonstrated how nepotism and unequal distribution of resources had set two communities against each other, degenerating into a full-blown confrontation.

Mr Malala said he was inspired by the sudden interest and attention given to Turkana County after the discovery of oil, "when the area had been marginalised for years".