The Stray Bulletin

Arts and culture in East Africa and beyond

Black Mamba February 28, 2010

Filed under: Theatre reviews — Sophie Alal @ 2:40 pm

The final scene.

A shrewd, underpaid houseboy lives and works with a university professor and his wife. As his struggle for survival under unsympathetic circumstances intensifies, he has the idea of pimping out his own wife to his employer. This culminates with scandal, a brush with the law, and his wife having second thoughts about who she would rather be with. This would not be an unusual story in modern day Kampala, though it is actually the plot of the 1972 play Black Mamba by the late Ugandan playwright John Ruganda, shown in the Uganda National Cultural Centre as part of the celebrations marking its 50th anniversary.

In this play the gap between satire and comedy is blurred. The drama is built up in a sequence of clever set pieces. The sharp dialogue is full of biting criticism about the collective consciousness of society, the exploitation of common people and the various hues of corruption.