"KENYA NATIONAL THEATRE IS NOT YET DEAD" SAYS AGHAN ODERO
“The level of neglect and pathetic maintenance of the theatre and its facilities. The air that now hangs around the compound is ghostly and spooky. The stage was dusty and the lights were not working. The squeaky seats had peeled off. A strong stench of ammonia hit my nose when I entered the bathrooms. Everything was broken and there was no water. The changing rooms were dirty with patches of thick dark substance on the floor. And we call the Kenya Cultural Centre and The Kenya National Theatre – a national heritage!Between 6pm to 6am the parking lots always changes into some sort of lodging. Twilight girls come with their clients and pay the guards some tip to drive in and satisfy the loins of their clients. This is allegedly done with the full knowledge of management! You pay Kshs. 200 per hour for packing fees.” Those are some of the allegations and dreadful things being witnessed at the Kenya National Theatre as narrated by blogger Shem Agunda in his article DEATH OF THE KENYA NATIONAL THEATRE (KNT)
The state of the Kenya National theatre is no doubt in jeopardy and something drastic needs to be done to salvage the remaining pieces of what was once the home to many actors, art lovers and a pride of Kenya.
Strong accusations made above by Shem did not go answered by Aghan Odero Agan Executive Director, The Kenya Cultural Centre incorporating The Kenya National Theatre.
In a public statement that he made, he had this to say;
“Of course The Kenya National Theatre is not dead yet and will not be in a very long time to come. Sometimes epitaphs come easy in pronouncement and damnation. On this one, such an edict is dead and at best, sterile. The KNT facility has no doubt packed the best of times as well as some ignominious journeys. This is true, obvious and pedestrian fair game for any casual observer. Sixty two years is long enough time in birthing derelict remaining of a glorious past.
Of greater importance is what to do with that past and the resultant dereliction in navigating new, better frontiers for the facility. The urgency of this is more pronounced if one were to take cognisance of contemporary contextual demands and challenges Kenyan art and creativity is faced with. It is an agenda I am and have been part of with a commitment to securing real transformative change of the National Theatre facility for the better.
Suffice to say, and not to delve into sensational broad stroke allusions of alleged extortionist price charges, bribery, running of prostitution rings et al, the Kenya Cultural Centre's National Theatre facility is already in the transitional path to firmer and better times.
In public domain over the immediate past nine months have been the following:
Last November 2013, KBL/EABL Foundation in its capacity as a Kenyan Corporate citizen, established a strong Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the Government of Kenya a KNT Refurbishment Initiative totaling Ksh. 100 million. Objective is full physical restoration and upgrading of the theatre befitting demands of modern creative utility. It is organized as part of Kenya @50 Legacy Projects within Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts under which The Kenya Cultural Centre are domiciled as a semi autonomous public agency.
The KNT Refurbishment Initiative was publicly unveiled on the morning of December 09, 2013 by HE The President of Kenya Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta in a ceremony conducted under the Centre's Mugumo Courtyard. Presiding partners alongside the President were: KBL/EABL Foundation, Nairobi City County Government, Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts as well as The Kenya Cultural Centre's Management and Governing Council.
So since then what is the obtaining situation as at now?
Competitive public procurement of Architectural/Quantity Survey, Facility Technical Appraisal, Design Works, Building Contraction, and Specialist Fittings started in February this year have so far been concluded (last week Aug 15).
Physical contraction work is due to commence next month in September during week 1. It is scheduled to run thereafter for the next twelve (12) weeks. Completion and handover of the refurbished facility is planned for end of November this year. The President shall once more preside in the expected unveiling of Refurbished KNT by early December, 2014 at the Centre's Mugumo Courtyard.
So folks there goes the sensationally pronounced ''DEAD'' shrine of Kenya's contemporary creative heritage!
In some traditional African parlance, they say that "it requires a lot of carefulness to kill the fly that perches on the scrotum". Thank goodness we now have the luxury of Doom aerosols with good running bath water to boot! The lesson therein perhaps is to invest continuously in better self renewing apparels.
The Shrine Liveth”
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