Commander, Kenya Air Force Maj Gen Samuel Thuita with the “Watu Wote” short Film cast and crew and the Kenya Air Force Theatre Troupe
Critically acclaimed Kenyan-German short movie “Watu Wote” screened for the first time in Kenya after it was nominated for an Oscar, on Friday, 23 March 2018 at the Talanta Theatre, Moi Air Base, Eastleigh Nairobi.
More than two hundred people attended the special military screening of the short film. The Commander, Kenya Air Force Major General Samuel Thuita who was accompanied by the Base Commander, Moi Air Base Brig M A Badi, graced the afternoon session. Others in attendance were; Kenya Air Force Senior officers, officers, service personnel, teachers and students from the Moi Air Base Primary and the Moi Forces Academy Secondary school.
The 26 minute 2017 short film is based on a true account of the December 2015 terrorists attack on a Mandera bound bus.
Watu Wote (All of us) was directed by German Katja Benrath as her graduation project at Hamburg Media School (Germany), and it brought together more than 120 people in various production roles drawn from Germany and Kenya, 95% of them being Kenyans.
The film has been entered in over 60 International Film Festivals and has won 40 awards, the highest being a Student Academy award for Best International Film (Gold Plaque) in 2017. In 2018 at the 90th Academy Awards, the film won nomination for Best Live Action Short Film.
It tells the story of Jua, a Christian living in Kenya, who boards a bus to visit a relative in Mandera and is uncomfortable being surrounded by Muslim passengers. The bus is stopped by the violent terrorist group Al-Shabaab, whose members demand that the Muslims identify the Christian passengers. This opens to the turning point of the resilience by Muslims in the bus, although afraid, and facing the danger of being shot dead, the Muslims on board the bus elect to defy the militants. No Christian is singled out or identified.
In the process, two of the passengers are shot, one of them being Salah Abdow Farah, who declined to identify Christians even at gun point. One of the passenger dies on spot and Farah succumbs to his injuries two weeks later.
The Kenya Film Commission Liaison and production Manager Caroline Njoroge, Krysteen Savane the production manager, Bramwel Iro who was service producer and actors Gerald Langiri, Mohamed Salim and Saada Mohamed were part of the cast and crew who attended the event and interacted with the audience. They responded to questions regarding the origin, script, filming and the traction the movie had received in the counter terror effort.
Speaking at the event, Commander, Kenya Air Force Major General Samuel Thuita expressed his delight in being part of the audience. He appreciated the role young producers in the country were playing especially in creating products that focus on social change, counter terrorism, patriotism and character development.
The Commander urged the audience particularly the students from Moi Forces Academy to be conscious that they are possible targets of radicalisation as depicted in the movie and challenged everyone to emulate the character of Salah Abdow Farah who shunned religious division to save the lives of fellow passengers in the attack. He reminded the audience that the President Uhuru Kenyatta, awarded late Salah Abdow Farah the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya posthumously, for his act of courage. Mr Farah, a Muslim teacher who until his death was the deputy head teacher of Mandera Township Primary School, was shot as he shielded non-Muslims on the bus, it is his character that emboldens the war on terror by Kenyans for Kenya.
“I challenge all of us to learn from this short film and realize that no matter where we come from, as Kenyans we need each other. Let us reject all forms of discrimination and religious separation and continue to look out for each other.”
Maj General Samuel N Thuita,
Commander, Kenya Air Force.
The Kenya Air Force theatre troupe, were also in attendance and offered an opportunity to be mentored by the cast and crew present during the screening.
Commander Kenya Air Force Major General Samuel Thuita , Base Commander Moi Air Base, Brigadier Mohamed Badi, Kenya Defence Forces Senior Officers, Service Members and Moi Forces Academy students at the Talanta Theatre during the Oscar Nominated short film “Watu Wote” screening on 23rd March 2018.
Kenya Film Commission, Liaison and Production Manager Ms Caroline Njoroge addresses the audience during the “Watu Wote” film screening at Talanta Theatre.
Kelvin Kiprotich a form three student at Moi Forces Academy asks a question during the “Watu Wote” Screening at Talanta Theatre.
Commander Kenya Air Force Major General Samuel Thuita, Kenya Air Force Theatre Troupe and “Watu Wote” cast and crew in a group photo.
Commander Kenya Air Force Major General Samuel Thuita in a group photo with the “Watu Wote” cast and crew.