Christopher Mukiibi, a veteran playwright and performer, has returned to the stage after a 44-year absence. He leads a cast in his 1976 drama Abassa N’abassa, which is currently showing at the Uganda National Cultural Centre in Kampala on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3pm and 7pm. (After a 44-year hiatus – playwright Christopher Mukiibi returns to the stage )
The drama is based on thematic concerns of trust in the institution of family. When Kasirye and Dan, two close friends and neighbors, decide to have extramarital affairs, their friendship is put on display.
Kasirye begins dating Dan’s daughter, and Dan begins dating Kasirye’s daughter. Both are senior folks who use money to entice young females who could be their daughters and then impregnate them.
When their two wives learn about their shameful indiscretions, it is as upsetting as it can be. At 83, Mukiibi, the playwright, and ‘The Legends’ theatre troupe aim to expose the moral degradation that is consuming society, when people who should be moral defenders become transgressors.
He also shines a light on young men who are content to have several affairs with different girls and ladies old enough to be their mothers, oblivious to the risks of catching sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Abassa N’abassa is a proverbial title of a Luganda saying ‘Abassa N’abassa Tebasingana Mpaka,’ which loosely translates as “two wrongs don’t make a right,” and in the case of two friends who secretly seduce each other’s daughters but are unknowingly seen and observed by someone who begins spreading word about their selfish nature to village folk.
Mukiibi conveys his message through the rumor mill, which is ubiquitous in African society, as well as asides, as the two major protagonists ponder aloud on stage and reveal their malicious and mischievous plans to the audience.
The action takes place along Toga Street in the play. So much is known through a phone repairer and blacksmith because they use their street presence to pry into everyone’s concerns.
The dramatist weaves them into subplots that address other societal challenges such as homelessness. One example is a domestic situation in which the husband loses his job and is no longer the breadwinner.
The wife is always arguing, using derogatory language to characterize him for failing to fulfill his job as the man of the house. In response, he reminds her of the days when he worked and provided for the family.
To his sorrow, she will not accept any of his excuses. When municipal council personnel pick up merchants and arrest them until they bribe their way out of jail, economic injustice and corruption collide.
Some women openly engage in prostitution, not by standing on street corners and luring men, but by having men they will engage with in exchange for money, and when two men clash, the woman encourages them to respect the fact that each was assigned a day they will be ‘seeing her.’
Mukiibi also discusses the subject of shipping boda bodas (commercial motorcycles) out of town and the consequences if people lose their jobs and become criminals.
Nonetheless, Abassa N’abassa is presented in an engaging manner, allowing audience members to laugh while simultaneously learning something from the play.
According to National Theatre’s Public Relations Officer, Robert Musiitwa, the legends have been brought back because young people need mentorship, which has been lacking in the arts and culture sector.
“We all know that success in any discipline is impossible without mentorship.” Second, a smooth transfer and succession is required. Soon, Mukiibi and his colleagues will be offstage, necessitating the need for successors. “Having legends back is one way we fulfill our purpose of preservation as UNCC, in addition to restarting theatrical activities after lockdown,” Musiitwa explains.
Mukiibi, a former member of The Theatricals and Kayayu Film Players, has written and directed 43 plays. He claims that they intend to revive more of their pieces on stage in the near future. ( After a 44-year hiatus – playwright Christopher Mukiibi returns to the stage – celebrity jazz ug )