Stage play shines spotlight on ills bedevelling Kenyan society

A scene from the play.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Life is a maze that one gets to navigate with the help of their parents or guardians.

They guide and advise according to what they deem best for their children. Tough choices, and measures, are taken.

The play “I Am Not a Simp, I Respect Women”, staged two weeks ago, is based on real-life stories. It portrays what happens to Stephanie, who accepts the advances of a lecturer after missing exams and becomes pregnant with twin sons.

Covered in shame and anger, Stephanie goes home but her mother chases her away. In tears, she begs her mother but her pleas fall on deaf ears.

Stephanie’s mother recalls that when she was a student herself, the same lecturer had made her pregnant and the offspring was Stephanie. That thought shreds Stephanie’s heart into pieces.

A broken and lonely Stephanie leaves home and sleeps on the streets, where she begs to fend for her twins.

Stephanie’s mother, on the other hand, presses charges against the lecturer, saying he had raped her daughter.

Asked what he would like to say before the judge issued a judgment, the lecturer quips: “I am not a simp, I respect women.” But he is sentenced to life for rape.

Several years later, the lecturer is released in a presidential pardon.

He starts a church ministry. Stephanie joins a brothel but the money she earns is not enough to support her children. She meets up with Judas, a pharmacist who discloses to her about a non-governmental organisation that help people living with HIV and Aids meet their needs.

A decent life

Before taking her sons to Njogu, Stephanie seeks the help of the children’s father but she is shunned. Desperate to offer her children a decent life, Stephanie asks Njogu to inject her twins with the deadly virus. With the children testing positive for HIV, Stephanie’s life takes a turn for the worse when the NGO ceases the help she needs.

According to statistics released by the National Aids Control Council, 105,200 children below 15 years old were living with HIV and Aids in 2017-2018, accounting for seven percent of people with HIV.

Half of the children (50 percent) of those children were from seven counties – Homa Bay (10,722), Siaya (9,501), Kisumu (9,439), Nairobi (8,137), Migori (6,161), Kakamega (4,224) and Nakuru (4,026).

Stephanie consults a classmate who longed to be in a relationship with her during their university days. She gives up her children for adoption on the condition that she works as a nanny in the home where her offspring will live.

The twins grow up and lead successful careers. Having had sexual intercourse with his girlfriend, one of the twins, Cain, a public executioner, learns of his HIV status.

In anger, he blames his girlfriend, who worked as a barmaid, and accuses her of getting him infected. On the other hand, on his brother Abel’s wedding day, Cain is needed to make a hard decision on whether their mother should be executed.

Stephanie is to be executed with Judas for being in a syndicate that injects babies with the virus that causes Aids. Was Stephanie justified in injecting her children with the deadly virus? And will Cain be justified for executing their mother? These are the tough questions the audience was left to ponder.

Moral decay

Derrick Waswa, the director of the play, says it was inspired by real-life events and it sheds light on moral decay.

“The number of people infected with HIV and Aids is on the rise and the young generation do not know the signs and symptoms or even how people get infected,” he offered.

Waswa said that in one of the HIV sensitisation camps he holds in slums, a mother disclosed that she had infected her children for monetary gain.

Waswa said the play’s main goal was to educate and entertain.
“University students are thriving in sponsor relationships and the play was a guide on what things might look like if they keep on,” he added.

“Stephanie’s life was a replica of a predicament of a student in one of Kenya’s leading public universities in the 90s as revealed to me by a senior administrator at the university.”

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