After a long lull, Uganda is once again basking in literary glory after our three playwrights scooped the first, second and third prizes in this year’s BBC African Performance Playwriting Competition.
The number one prize was won by Deborah Asiimwe’s Will Smith Look Alike, the second prize was jointly won by Kenneth Bashir Atwine’s Kitu Kidogo and Coffin Factory by Julia Childs and in third place was Angella Emurwon with The Cow Needs A Wife.
Will Smith Look Alike is about an ambitious 17-year-old boy who flies to the United States with his school music group after they won a national competition, and has the belief that his striking resemblance with African-American actor and rapper Will Smith will help him to achieve the American dream.
“I was ecstatic when the BBC called me up to tell me that my play was the overall winner of the competition,” says Ms. Asiimwe. “I almost couldn’t believe that I was getting a financial award of £1,000(approximately Shs3,300,000) on top of my play being broadcast on BBC. I’m so thankful because God has caused me to meet amazing people on my journey as a playwright.”
Ms Asiimwe who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Performance, narrates the source of inspiration that led to her winning script: “In 2008, I had a residency in New York City. There was a character I encountered who had migrated to New York from one of the African countries. My conversation with this character made me think a lot about people who migrate to the US or Europe with grand dreams and how those dreams either come true or turn into nightmares.
“Also, having moved to New York city to take up employment there after my graduation; seeing and talking to so many African immigrants, I got a glimpse into how much the media paints an almost perfect image of the US and the west and how that to a larger extent makes some people believe that by migrating to the west, all of their problems will be solved. That is how Will Smith Look Alike came about.”
Prof. Wole Soyinka who judged this year’s competition called Asiimwe’s writing “very good; I became really caught up with the play wondering what the final end would be. It was convincing.”