Out of Africa and the Memory of Rwanda

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized
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By Hannah Spyksma

A tale of African tragedy is all too real for actress Wanjiku Kiarie Sanderson.

A Thousand Hills tells the gripping and true story of a young refugee.

And it’s something the Kenyan born Mrs Kiarie Sanderson can relate to.

The production is set to a background of African unrest and follows the journey of Rwandan Phillipe and Kiwi Nick who meet at a refugee camp on the border of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The story is showing at the Herald Theatre until October 30 and is based on the real life experiences of Francois Byamana and Red Cross worker Bob Askew.

The action is shadowed by the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

It is a moving tale of friendship and human bonds that transcends the trying environment its cast find themselves in.

Mrs Kiarie Sanderson is based in Grey Lynn for the duration of the show and plays Mr Byamana’s mother.

She says her character reminds her of her own mum.

“To me she is quite a lot of African mothers, how we were brought up is quite special.”

The actress and poet says parallels of real life and theatre are intertwined in A Thousand Hills.

She believes it is a must-see.

“I think this play – for this kind of message – is portraying what humans can do for each other,” she says.

“For me it’s about human hope, human struggle and human determination to survive under very severe conditions and circumstances.”

The actress knows the realities of life in Africa.

She left Kenya when she was about 20 and has spent her professional life between Africa, England and New Zealand using theatre to connect the dots of a cross-cultural life.

Her home country also accepted refugees when the Rwandan genocide happened.

Mrs Kiarie Sanderson knew Mr Byamana before getting involved in the show and credits the actor for being brave enough to tell his story.

She has to act out a drowning scene based on what happened to Mr Byamana’s mother.

“There’s quite a lot of real life on stage so it’s quite sensitive to him,” Mrs Kiarie Sanderson says.

Issues dealt with in the story are sombre but the actress believes the messages of hope, survival and overcoming adversity stand out.

“It brings out human quality of seeing each other through their struggles and their journeys and supporting each other.”

The show is written by Mike Hudson and directed by TAPAC theatre’s Margaret-Mary Hollins.

Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/auckland-city-harbour-news/5852545/Out-of-Africa

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