Among the rural folk in Africa, a very special few get to enjoy tales of legends of our cultural folklore by the evening fire. I used to marvel in the tales of Kenyan heroes such as Luanda Magere, Mekatilili wa Menza, Koitalel arap Samoei and many more. For a long time, we’ve progressively been sold to the notion that heroes only exist in folklore and comic books. So much that we easily overlook the acts of bravity and sacrifice right underneath our noses! One such tale occurred in the very recent past right here in Kenya.
Slaying the beast that is terrorism
Since 2011, a previously peaceful island, Kenya has been faced by an exponential increase in terrorist attacks primarily attributed to the Al shabaab. The height of these attacks was between 2013 and 2015, where the extremist group brutally ended the lives of scores of people in separate attacks including: Westgate, Garrissa University, the Mandera Quarry, Mandera bus attack, and Mpeketoni attack among others. After massive public outcry the government stepped up its anti-terror efforts across the country, marked by changes in the top offices of the security docket. This resulted in a sharp decline in the number and frequency of attacks, and we can now proudly speak of a gradual resumption of normalcy. Every single life is valuable and should be protected and preserved.
The heroic Muslims that stood up to the Al-shabaab
At the height of the terrorist attacks, a previously simple bus trip to and from northern Kenya became a risk factor. In those days the extremists had cells spread in the arid unpatrolled bush lands lying in wait for the next vulnerable transit vehicle. In one such attack, at least 28 fell to the guns of the heartless savages, an event that sparked a change in travel policy in the region. The security forces restricted public bus transport to day time and only under armed police escort. As fate would have it, on a dirt road near the little known town called Elwak in nothern Kenya, another bus came under siege of the extremists. On the sunny December day in 2015, the ill fated bus came under gunfire, forcing the driver to stop. Shortly after a forceful order to alight, the extremists demanded the Christians be split from Muslims before execution as in previous incidents.
In an act of unbelievable defiance and bravery, the Muslim passengers refused to be religiously set apart; standing between the rifle muzzles and the innocent victims. In a heroic call of solidarity, the muslims proclaimed,
“Kama ni kuua, basi ua watu wote!” (If you have to kill them, then kill us all!).
This simple show of solidarity made the extremists cower away in fear of coming under police attack and in so doing fled into the bush. In that one simple act of courage, Kenyan Muslims proved to the world that Islam is a religion of peace and preservation of life… and only few taint its image.
Watu Wote: First Kenyan film to win nomination to the Oscars!
Directed by Katja Benrath, the film Watu Wote (All of us) is based on the heroic acts of those brave Kenyan Muslims. Leaders in the world’s film industry couldn’t help but marvel at the heroism that saved the lives of so many! So much such that when Watu Wote enlisted for the 2017 Student Academy Awards, the film emerged winner in its category, earning a spot in the Oscars in 2018! Did I also mention that this is Kenya’s first film at the Oscars!
Why Every Kenyan should be excited about the 2018 Oscars
Kenyans have the very familiar habit of claiming the good fortunes of everything hoarding the limelight as their own. I hereby declare “Watu Wote ni yetu!“. With a star studded-cast, Watu wote is arguably Kenya’s best film, and ranking very high on my All-time favorite films. It features the likes of Adelyne Wairimu, Barkhad Abdirahman (Captain Phillips), Faysal Ahmed (Captain Phillips)… and Charlie Karumi (Nairobi half life). Other actors in Watu wote include Gerald Langiri (House Of Lungula), Alex Khayo (BET top actor Africa) and Douglas Muigai. Shot on several locations in Kenya, I believe this film will live up to all the excitement I get every time I watch the trailer!
Watu wote is set to premier in Kenyan Cinemas later this year! Before we all scramble for the film tickets, I must trace Charlie Karumi for an insider’s take on what filming experience was! Kwani what are friends for!
Spread the word, let’s all book tickets (LOL) to the next Oscars on the 4th of March 2018 hosted by Jimmy Kimmel! Sharing is caring!
Watu Wote film’s Winning Accolades
2017 Bermuda Film Festival – Winner
2017 Holyshorts – Official Selection
2017 StudioHamburg Newcomer Award – Winner
2017 LA Shorts Fest – Official Selection
2017 German Newcomer Award for Cinematography – Winner
2017 Brooklyn Film Festival – Winner
2017 BronzeLens – Official Selection