This year’s finals of the 49th Edition of the Kenya National Schools and Colleges Drama Festival took place from 7 to 15 April 2008 at Lohana Hall, Nakuru. This event highlights some of the extra-curricular activities of students at the primary schools, secondary schools and the technology colleges, and is organised annually by Kenya’s Ministry of Education. This year’s theme was: "DRAMA AS A UNIFYING FORCE".
This is the fourth consecutive year that the Kenya National Drama Festivals has included a category of stage plays in French. Until 2004, the French language plays had their own festival.
In the last four years, the participation of the French language network of Kenyan colleges and schools in the Drama Festival has increased tremendously. This network includes 350 schools and colleges, 400 teachers and 28000 students. At the provincial finals in 2007, 57 schools presented plays in French. In 2006, they were 50 and only 32 in 2005. This year, despite the delays in schools opening dates, about 40 schools and colleges had French language plays of very high quality.
Award presentation ceremony
The winners were presented with prices and awards at a gala award ceremony on Tuesday 15th April. The awards ceremony was presided by the Minister for Education, Professor Sam Ongeri.
Also present at the ceremony were:
Prof Karega Mutahi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education
Prof George Godia, Education Secretary
Mr Enos Oyaya, Director of Quality Assurance & Standards in the Ministry of Education
Dr. Ezekiel Alembi of the Kenyatta University and also Chairman of the National Schools and Colleges drama festival.
Mr Macharia, Rift Valley Provincial Director of Education
Mr Patrick Khaemba, Executive Secretary of the Kenya National Schools and Colleges Drama Festival
Mr Renaud Ferrand, 1st Counsellor at the French Embassy, represented the Ambassador at the gala, where the winners showcased their prowess in drama and dancing. The air was charged with colourful presentations that demonstrated they truly deserved to win, and contained powerful messages that moved the audience.
Mr Patrick Parrot, Linguistic Attaché at the French Embassy, appreciated the distinct improvement – as compared to the previous editions – of the quality of the French plays. He was accompanied by Mr Peter Owino, the President of the Kenya Association of Teachers of French language (K.A.T.F.), who presented the prizes to the winners in the category of French language presentations.
Mrs Katherine Sakari, French teacher at St George Girls High School, Nairobi was overjoyed as her team won the top award. She won a trip to France. This trip includes a one month professional language training session, and will be held in August.
Mr Franz Shivajai, a student from Maseno School, won the best actor prize and Ms Valerie Gaku, from Booker Academy, the best actress. These 2 students will also travel to France for a two-week linguistic stay in August.
Booker Academy also won the best prize for décor. The Alliance Girls’ School from Kikuyu won a prize for the best costume.
These 3 prestigious and coveted prizes for the French language category in the 2008 Drama Festival were donated by the Alliance Française of Nairobi, in conjunction with the Embassy of France in Kenya, within the framework of its linguistic cooperation.
In addition to the 3 trips and stays in France, individual trophies and tee-shirts were given to all students and teachers of the plays that made in to the national finals, as well as all the students and teachers who won the first four top slots in the provincial finals in seven provinces.
In addition, the schools that produced the seven finalists in the nationals received French language learning equipment: an encyclopaedic dictionary, a batch of 5 reference books on French language (grammar, conjugation, orthography, language and writing) and a nine traditional stage plays in French including those of renowned author: Molière.
The value of the prices allocated this year reached Ksh965,000.
In addition, the Alliance Française of Nairobi took direct charge of the cost of organising the drama festivals for the French plays at the provincial and national levels (travel and accommodation of the schools and of the judges for this category) for a total amount of Ksh200,000 which makes the total amount of French Cooperation contribution at Ksh1,165,000, an increase of 15% in relation to 2007.
This important contribution marks the attachment of French Cooperation to this national event which showcases numerous talents and which brings out the French plays alongside the English and Kiswahili pieces. Indeed, French was the only foreign language represented at the Drama Festival and the efforts of the French language teachers and their students deserve recognition and reward.
President Kibaki, in his speech at the winners gala presentation at the State House gardens, on Wednesday 16 April, lauded the contribution of France, alongside that of the other sponsors.