Reassessing Jomo Kenyatta’s Crackdown on Theatre for Education and Development

  • Samson Kaunga Ndanyi
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This chapter explores the encounter between the government of President Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya and proponents of Theatre for Development (TfD,) which is dialogical theatre meant to serve as a tool for community empowerment and development. The chapter pays special attention to the period between 1976 and 1978 when TfD suffered stagnation due to a myriad of factors such as the high cost of production, the lack of production logistics, and scarce organizational structures to support. The most significant cause of stagnation, however, was political interference from the Kenyatta administration which banned stage performances with political overtones and denied licenses to shows that were far from controversial. The crackdown on plays by African performers was swift and wide. Kenyatta’s administration summarily cancelled performances with “subversive” messages that allegedly undermined the spirit of national unity. Government spies routinely mingled with unsuspecting audiences in theatre halls and makeshift venues to identify dissident activities.


Colonial Government Preventive Detention National Conversation White Settler Kenyan Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Amutabi, Maurice N. (2002). “Crisis and Student Protest in Universities in Kenya: Examining the Role of Students in National Leadership and the Democratization Process.” African Studies Review, vol. 45, no. 2, 157–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, David (2005). Histories of the Hanged. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  3. Bayart, Jean-François (1989). L’etat en Afrique. La politique du ventre. Paris: Fayard.Google Scholar
  4. Boal, Augusto (1985). Theatre of the Oppressed. Trans. Charles A. and Maria-Odilia Leal Mcbride. New York: Theatre Communication Group.Google Scholar
  5. Branch, Daniel (2009). Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya: Counterinsurgency, Civil War and Decolonization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Daily Nation (1982). “Why Ban ‘Muntu’?” Editorial. January 30. — (1995). January 13.Google Scholar
  7. “Divide and Rule: State Sponsored Ethnic Violence in Kenya” (1993). Africa Watch.
  8. Elkins, Caroline (2005). Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. New York: Holt Paperbacks.Google Scholar
  9. Freire, Paulo (1968). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Trans. Myra Bergman Ramos. New York: The Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  10. Getino, Octavio, and Fernando Solanas (1969). “Toward a Third Cinema.” Tricontinental, vol. 14, 107–132.Google Scholar
  11. Imbuga, Francis (1976). Betrayal in the City. Nairobi: East Africa Educational Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Indangasi, Henry (1997). “Ngugi’s Ideal Reader and the Postcolonial Reality.” The Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 27, 193–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Joseph, Odhiambo Christopher. (2008). Theatre for Development in Kenya: In Search of Appropriate Procedure and Methodology.” Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies.Google Scholar
  14. — (2005). “Theatre for Development in Kenya: Interrogating the Ethics of Practice.” Research in Drama Education, vol. 10, no. 2, 189–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kenyatta, Jomo (1938). Facing Mount Kenya: The Tribal Life of the Gikuyu. London: Seeker and Warburg.Google Scholar
  16. —. ([1933]1970). “Kenya.” In Nancy Cunard (ed.), Negro: An Anthology, 452–456. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing.Google Scholar
  17. Maloba, Wunyabari O. (1993). Mau Mau and Kenya. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  18. Maxon, Robert M. (1994). East Africa: An Introductory History, 2nd ed. West Virginia, VA: West Virginia University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Mbugua, Tabitha (1976). “This Is the Way to Help a Sick Society.” Daily Nation, November 5.Google Scholar
  20. Mlama, Penina Muhando (1991). Culture and Development: The Popular Theatre Approach in Africa. Motala Grafiska, Motala: SIDA.Google Scholar
  21. Mumma, Opiyo (1997). “Concepts and Terms.” In Loukie Levert and Opiyo Mumma (eds.), Drama and Theatre: Communication in Development, Experiences in Western Kenya, 7–13. Nairobi: KDEA.Google Scholar
  22. Ng’weno, Hilary (1968). “Letter from Nairobi.” Africa Arts vol. 1, no. 2, 66–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ochwada, Hannington (2012). “From Kamiirithu to XYZ-Show: Between Cultural ‘Flaws’ and Democratic Change in Independent Kenya.” In Augustine Agwuele (ed.), Development, Modernism and Modernity in Africa, 196–211. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Odinga, Oginga (1967). Not yet Uhuru. Heinemann: Nairobi.Google Scholar
  25. Ogolla, Lenin (1997). Towards Behavior Change: Participatory Theatre in Education and Development. Nairobi: PETAD International.Google Scholar
  26. Osotsi, R. M. (1990). “The Theatre in Independent Kenya.” In William R. Ochieng’ (ed.), Themes in Kenyan History, 209–217. Nairobi: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  27. Peterson, Douglas L. (1983). “Manifesto for a People’s Theatre.” The Drama Review, vol. 27, no. 4, 70–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rosberg, Carl G., and Nottingham, John (1996). The Myth of “Mau Mau”: Nationalism in Kenya. Nairobi: East African Publishing House.Google Scholar
  29. Savage, Donald C. (1969). “Jomo Kenyatta, Malcom MacDonald and the Colonial Office 1938–39 Some Documents from the P. R. O.” Canadian Journal of African Studies, vol. 3, no. 3, 615–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Savage, Donald C., and Cameron, Taylor (1991). “Academic Freedom in Kenya.” Canadian Journal of African Studies, vol. 25, no. 2, 308–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Thiong’o, Ngugiwa (1997). “Enactment of Power: The Politics of Performance Space.” TDR, vol. 41, no. 3, 11–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. — (1981). Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Nairobi: East Africa Educational Publishers.Google Scholar
  33. — (1967). A Grain of Wheat. Jordan Hill, Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers.Google Scholar
  34. Thiong’o, Ngugi wa, and Mirii, Ngugi wa (1982). I Will Marry When I Want. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  35. Thiong’o, Ngugi wa, and Mugo, Micere Githae (1976). The Trial of Dedan Kimathi. Nairobi: Heinemann.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Samson Kaunga Ndanyi 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samson Kaunga Ndanyi

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations