Kamiriithu Community Education and Cultural Centre
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The Kamiriithu Community Education and Cultural Centre, in Kamiriithu, Kenya was a historic and significant program in which Ngugi Wa Thiong'o was quite involved. The efforts of this program brought about great strides in the effort to recreate and celebrate the African language in the theater and in literature, as opposed to domination of the English language which had been imposed by the British. Through drama and musical productions, which included song, dance, and mimes illustrating the hardships Africans suffered under colonial rule, Ngugi wa-Thiongo along with others were able to draw crowds, create a stronger sense of patriotism, and celebrate the African language.
The centre housed an open-air theater at Kamiriithu, in Limuru, Kenya. Ngugi's project sought to create an autochthonous Kenyan theater, which would liberate the theatrical process from what the artist held to be "the general bourgeois education system", by encouraging spontaneity and audience participation in the performances. If traditional theatrical form was based on rehearsal "more or less in secrecy", in order to present an awing, perfected, daunting final form to an audience, Ngugi aimed to present a form of theater which would abstain from "mystifying knowledge and hence reality". By concealing the struggles of the actors to achieve their sought-after form as embodiments of their characters, traditional theater, according to Ngugi, actually causes people in the audience to "feel their inadequacies, their weaknesses and their incapacities in the face of reality; and their inability to do anything about the conditions governing their lives."
The government withdrew the centre's licence for public performance in November 1977 and was outlawed on 11 March 1982 when all theatre activities were banned in the area. On 11 March armed police arrived and burnt the centre to the ground.
Decolonizing the Mind (Ch. 2), Ngugi Wa Thiong'o
- Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. Decolonising the mind: the politics of language in African literature. 1994, page 56-9