When God created, he created them male and female. When the Lantern Meet produced, she birthed manhood and womanhood. Although the emphatic theme of the Man-You-script was an exploration of the concepts of masculinity and the attitudes and misconceptions surrounding it; the subtheme that stood out like a Mohawk was womanhood/ motherhood/ wifehood/ daughterhood/ feminism.
Saturday evening on September 5th, 2015 caught me in Entebbe debating whether I should jump on a boda boda or take the patience shrinking taxi that decided to make a hundred and one stop-overs before I got to town and consequently, I missed the first segment of the recital. The appropriate emoji here would be that sullen yellow face with a tear rolling down like a huge blue ocean. Follow that with the one with white clouds fuming out from both sides of an invisible nose. What better way to express myself in this dot.com, whatsapp addicted generation! One of the issues deliberated upon in most of the poems was the impact of modernity, technology and internet on femininity and masculinity.
The first golden star I will give to the Lantern Meet is for excellent time management. At exactly 7:00pm, the recital kicked off and it rolled on until about 8:30 pm. Each segment lasted approximately 30 minutes and this kept the audience in check. There were no unnecessary breaks that often drag the recital and divert the audience’s attention to other trivialities.
Truth is often unpalatable but the Man-You-script truth was mollified by the antidote of humour. Each poem was carefully crafted. The very critical ones were laced with rib cracking lines that shut your mouth each time you wanted to express your disapproval with the previous line. The very graphic poem “Nay, I Do not Come to Love You” left women laughing and not offended, those,” scarlet lipped, telenovela watching, snow loving, high heeled, shisha smoking, selfie addicted, skimpily dressed, breast and butt implant, KFC eating Zombies of women.”
Jason Ntaro performing, Nay, I do not come to love you.
The poem titled “Male-functioning” was a reflection of a man programmed to be a woman pleaser. He has no self and all he does centers on what the three protagonist women; a psychiatrist, neurologist and a programmer, seek to achieve. That piece was supposed to get us rolling on our backs with mirth but something went wrong. On second thought, may be the audience’s response was appropriate because there is no such thing as a woman pleaser. Complimentarity is the spice of happiness in any male-female relationship. Speaking of complementarity some poems were accompanied by drum beats from drummer boy Mark Ejuku and this accentuated the musicality of the poems.
A one Kafumisi, a.k.a Sammy Gideon Wetala performing Male Function.
This recital was an actualization of the adage, ‘killing two birds with one stone’. It dismantled the stereotype that feminists are male bashing devils and nothing more and also challenged the misconception that the Lantern Meet is a male dominated organization. The third segment of the recital had an array of poems written by women and performed by women that celebrated men such as Growing in Daughterhood written by Lillian Ngabirano and performed by Patricia Karungi and Back Up written by Aki Abaho and performed by Clare Assimwe. Regarding the second Bird that was killed, this recital was an idea of the women in the Lantern meet. Ann Linda Namuddu,Sanyu Kisaka and Aki Abaho wrote the script upon which the production was based, Aki Abaho was the Producer, Sanyu Aganza the Artistic Director, Sue Anique the Asst. Director, Gloria Nanfuka the Publicity Manager plus the amazing women who wrote and recited the poems. There was a clear balance of males and females on the set and that for me was close to perfection.
The highlight of the night was the adorable seven year old Tandeka Shailo who performed When I grow Up, a poem that embodied the message of the entire recital. The audience was wowed by the confidence of this young boy who stood tall amidst towering heights of the adults in the meet. The other audience favourite was the poem Chipped performed by Ibrahim Balunya adorned in a straight jacket and a cynical laugh that was unbeatable at moving the crowds. This poem lamented the crisis that men find themselves in when ‘switched to woman pleasing mode’ by the women in their lives.
I totally enjoyed every second of the recital. Perfection is never the ultimate goal and yet I still saw a few blunders here and there. The use of western Icons to emphasize certain aspects pinched away on the authenticity and Ugandan aura of some pieces. Names like Kevin Hart, Channing Tatum and Ed Sheeran left me wondering whether we did not have Ugandan Icons worth of mentioning. Secondly some poems had explicit lines that were inappropriate for the children in the audience that came with their parents to enjoy the poetry.
Tandeka S. performing When I Grow Up.
I write this as a reflection of my experience at the recital. If you missed the recital, you can get your own personal feel by securing yourself a copy of the audio CD that was made specially for you. Just contact Elijah Bwojji on +256 713 011166.