A version of the movie 1988 written by Charles Chanchori and directed by Robert Asimba made its first official screening in Nairobi on April 7, 2018. The movie producers are currently looking for funds to make a full length feature film.
The 1980s were a very stressful time for many African countries as they went through some of the worst of their existence as states. Nigeria for instance was still in the midst of its brutal rule by the generals. South Africa was going through its state of emergency that left many in their thousands dead.
Kenya wasn’t any better as the East African nation was struggling with a paranoid dictator worried about losing power. This led to anyone perceived to be a threat to his rule languishing in torture chambers, killed or fleeing into exile. The country has not healed from this period which is why art depicting this horrible part of that country’s history is very hard to come by.
A new work to start the journey towards ending that perception of lack of art portraying this period begun on April 7 as the movie 1988 launched at the Metta, Nairobi. It is a production of Tufilamu Pictures whose previous work includes Spensa, Confessions, Sage, Structures of Hope, WILAY and The Yard.
The movie is the story of Khoti Babu, a 21-year-old law student at the University of Nairobi, who gets on the wrong side of the law for talking smack about the government. Khoti is subjected to brutal treatment and blackmailed into turning in his Marxist professors at his university, in exchange for immunity and a secure government job. The stars of the movie are Helena Waithera, Mike Njeru, Raymond Ofula and Qwachezz Kwach.
Robert Asimba the director said that the movie was meant to be released last year but the plans were held back because of the political climate in the country at the time.
“It is a political journey to some extent. We are showcasing a different shade of what happened three decades ago. We hope to set a precedent for future historical adaptations of a genre that can rightly be termed as unpopular. 1988 is a modern-day adaptation, illustrating the blurred lines between dictatorship and democracy in modern African countries,” he said.
He also added that the whole project was self-funded by Tufilamu Pictures. They are currently seeking funds for a 90 minute feature film that could take up to 22 days to shoot.
After the speeches by the movie movers, there was a panel moderated by the event emcee Mwaniki Mageria where actual Nyayo House Torture victims, Silvano Oduor and Christine Mbula Kituu, shared with the audience their painful experiences at the chambers.