Jimmi Gathu: We tried beating Moi govt. censorship by submitting a play in Russian

• The veteran media personality explained the tough times many thespians had gone through in the late 80's and early 90's. 

Jimmi Gathu
Image: Instagram

Veteran actor and well-known media figure Jimmi Gathu has narrated how different life was for artists in the late eighties and early nineties.

Jimmi claimed that Kenyan theatre was, in a sense, owned by the government and that writers and directors had to submit their scripts to them for review and, ideally, approval.

Nonetheless, most plays that attempted to portray the ruling administration negatively or touched on politics were almost always turned down.

"I don't know if guys know this but those days you couldn't do political plays you had to get permission from the government," began the renowned actor's visit at the podcast "Cleaning The Airwaves."

Jimmi gave his interviewer the assurance that he wasn't even overstating the seriousness of the problems at the time, claiming that there was no true freedom of speech for creatives.

"You'd go ask for permission... you take your script there it is read, read and perused and then sometimes they would be like, 'Naah this one is talking badly about the government you can't go ahead with it.'"

Jimmi Gathu
Image: Instagram

The well-known media figure described the difficult time they had in the past and their battle for artistic independence in an emotive and introspective manner.

He continued by saying how he had submitted a play in Russian, but that his attempt to get around the bureaucracy by using a foreign language was unsuccessful.

"There is this Russian play, first time we wanted to do it we couldn't! That famous Russian play, Government Inspector...We were told, hii ata kama inaongea ki Russia, hii hapana.

This is 1989, 90 and 91. Anything with political undertones was getting cancelled, you'd just be told no and there is nothing you could do."

Jimmi continued by narrating how the first person to mimic the late president Daniel Arap Moi would occasionally be arrested for doing so.

After giving the deceased actor his flowers, Jimmi continued to tell stories about the Nderitu and how troublesome he was.

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