Tales of the Accidental City is a play about four residents of Nairobi who find themselves stuck together in a three-day anger management class after being accused by the courts of various misdemeanors. Diana, Jacinda, Louis Njoroge, and Sarah Obama must explain what got them there, and with the help of their quirky counsellor Rose, find a way to heal the wounds inflicted on them by life in the crazy city of Nairobi.
The play is the result of an artistic journey through writing, theatre, audio and film.
In 2019, eight Nairobi-based writers got together to write a collection of stories inspired by their city. The collection sought to explore Nairobi 120 years after its ‘creation’. Once a seasonal swamp on the edge of a forest that was not meant to be more than a railway depot for people and goods on their way elsewhere, Nairobi is today home to over four million people. A throbbing city where lives are swallowed up and spat out again, a place where dreams collide, where people come to run away from the ghosts of their pasts – some finding respite others carrying their demons with them. Through this portrait of Nairobi, the authors tell the story of many African cities challenged by population growth, economic disparities and social injustice.
The original intention of the writers was to publish the stories in an anthology. In the meantime, playwright Maïmouna Jallow , whose work centers on creating access to African literature by adapting short stories and novels into staged performances, worked with four of the stories to create a new play – Tales of the Accidental City. Using characters and storylines from the works of Sitawa Namwalie , Kevin Mwachiro and Margaret Muthee , as well as her own story in the collection, she also adapted the play into a 90-minute audio drama in three parts, and unexpectedly, into a screen play. Unable stage the play in theatres and community spaces around Nairobi as planned because of Covid-19 restrictions, Maïmouna decided to go experimental, using Zoom as the stage. In came Director of Photography and Editor Faith Musembi , who helped the play take on a new life as a 50-minute Zoom film that merges film and theatre. The result is a true celebration of literary and performance art, as well as a testament to adaptability!
Tales of the Accidental City is written and directed by Maïmouna Jallow.
It is based on these stories:
Finding Home by Margaret Muthee
Black Paint by Sitawa Namwalie
Banana Jam by Kevin Mwachiro
God is my Witness by Maïmouna Jallow