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Jaimini Jethwa discusses taking her play to Uganda

Jaimini Jethwa in Uganda

In March this year, Dundee based writer Jaimini Jethwa travelled to Uganda to explore presenting her play at National Theatre Kampala as part of ‘Banta in Uganda’ – a research and development project supported through Creative Scotland’s International fund.

Her play ‘The Last Queen of Scotland’ explores the events of August 1972 when the notorious dictator Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of all Indians from the country under a 90-day deadline.

In our Connecting series, artists, venues and creative projects talk about their work and their plans for the future...

Starting out

‘Bantah in Uganda’ is a further development of ‘Fae Dundee to Uganda and all the way back’ a project that involved researching my family’s experience of moving to Scotland as well as the social and economic situation in Dundee and Uganda in the 1970s.

I started out writing about my family’s history as we were forced to leave Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972 and settled in Scotland. Ironically Idi Amin coined the phrase ‘The Last King Of Scotland’ so I decided to re-address this history and take my home back.

Inspiration

My original research inspired me to write the poem ‘The Last Queen of Scotland’ which takes the form of a conversation with Idi Amin and discussed his decision to expel us from our home. The poem provided the title and the starting point for the play I developed with the help of mentoring from National Theatre Scotland and Dundee Rep.

Collaborating with National Theatre Kampala

I made contact with National Theatre Kampala during my first research trip to Uganda and as the Last Queen of Scotland project developed they became interested in showcasing my work there.

The idea of bridging the African-Indian-Scottish cultures together as well as commenting on critical period of history was what they were drawn to, and how the work spoke to people in terms of humour and humanity appealed to their agenda of showcasing new talent.

Making connections

During my trip I gave a live reading at National Theatre Kampala in front of their resident writers and directors and managed to secure project manager Eva Tumwesigye. However, I was also able to make a number of new connections with a view to future collaborations and projects…

I met Meera Nair who runs Maisha Film Lab with the intention of teaching at the lab, and her husband Mahood Mamdani who has written several books on the expulsion.

I was also introduced to Asiimwe Deborah GKashugi from Sundance Institute who’s interested in showcasing the play in Uganda and possibly New York. In addition they run BAYIMBA working with young people and teaching writing. Deborah has suggested I run workshops for them.

Other highlight of the trip included being made author of the month at the Uganda Women Writers’ Association FEMwrite, working on new writing with the respected Ugandan writer Kaya Kagimu Mukasa, and starting a new collaboration with spoken word artist and Idi Amin’s grandson UGLY-AMIN.

     

    What’s next

    Showcasing The Last Queen of Scotland at the National Theatre Kampala in partnership with National Theatre Scotland and Dundee Rep.

      This article was published on 14 May 2014