Ssemitego (Omuyizzi Kkungwa) was launched on Wednesday, 1st July, 2015 at the National Theatre. It is the Luganda version of Ssemitego (the Famous Hunter) written by Assoc. Prof. Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare from the Department of Performing Arts and Film, Makerere University. The launch was part of the activities organized to mark this year’s Annual Book Harvest Week in commemoration of the Day of the African Child, an international event marked annually on 16th June. The book was launched alongside other 16 publications including; Byendabye Mbirabye, Tekirya Munaku and Olulimi Oluganda Olwatuyitimusa by Ms Prisca Nakitto (member of the International Grail); Love under a Mask and The Prominent Woman Fisher by Gerald Damulira (former B.A. Drama and Film student); Namulanda, Namulondo Ya Kabaka Yajja Etya, Kintu ne Nambi and Tobbanga by Mr Waalabyeki Magoba (Ugandan novelist, playwright, folklorist and journalist) as well as Young and Searching and Sampling Ugandan Names, also by Assoc. Prof. Ntangaare.
According to Assoc. Prof. Ntangaare, the play, Ssemitego (Omuyizzi Kkungwa) is based on a Buganda folktale of the same name that has been given a modern twist where Ssemitego and, indeed, every character in the play, could be any of us as we seek to fulfil our dreams in life. The story is told in a humanistic, every day, conversational way complimented by lovely poems (in every sense of the word) and lyrics.
The play, SSEMITEGO, is a modern tragedy with carefully interwoven scenes of comic relief, music and dramatic poetry. It’s one form of African tragedy where strong belief in the supernatural breeds self-destruction. Some people believe that riches and money can be made by magic or simply given out by the gods. Such people are ever ready to obey the gods’ demands and sacrifice children and others to get riches and live a happy life.
Ssemitego, around whom the story revolves, is not a bad-hearted man or philander. He doesn’t seek to gratify his bodily desires at the nearest opportunity. But, like any of us, he is vulnerable once he allows instinct to take the better of his reason.
Temptation strikes once. He thinks he can indulge himself a bit, maybe for fun, maybe for adventure. Beneath the public figure of a seasoned hunter we see a fragile man driven by ambition, easily excitable by magic, easy money and a beautiful woman in whom he sees a cure to his chronic condition of lost manhood. Apparently, the goddess, Nantabonekaboneka, promises all these and more.
The play explores the vulnerability of the family when parents engage in domestic violence, endless money pursuits and extra-marital conquests. It references a local Bugandan fairytale to initiate debate on
gender issues, human rights as well as animal rights. The play is situated in a socially prestigious family of a famous hunter who is also an acclaimed father of twins, a boy and a girl. In Bugandan society, twins are regarded as supernatural hence spiritual births. See details at: http://www.mebotheatre.net/semitego-the-famous-hunter/
Other activities to commemorate this year’s Annual Book Harvest included a three-day theatre arts and books exhibition that started on Monday 29th June, 2015, the Annual MEBO Essay Awards for Secondary Schools and a stimulating talk by senior physician and surgeon, Dr. Rockie Kisekka, from Mulago Hospital on “How the Human Brain Works under Intense Pressure and Excitement”.
Those interested in any of the books can contact Assoc. Prof. Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare, Department of Performing Arts and Film, Makerere University.