Night, Mother’ is the sort of play that can haunt the innocent spectator who’s only heard the drama is about depression and a young woman contemplation of suicide.
Staged last weekend at Kenya National Theatre’s Ukumbi Mdogo, one might assume you wouldn’t be afflicted with a suicide taking place on the Kenyan stage. And yet, one can recall a number of other gruesome scenes performed recently on stage in Nairobi. For instance, there was the way Jesus was tortured and slaughtered at the Kenya National Theatre in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Then there was Nairobi Performing Arts Studio’s interpretation of the hit South African (and Broadway) musical, Sarafina, where student protesters were shot dead by Apartheid home guards right there on the National Theatre stage.
But even with these recollections, one wouldn’t necessarily expect to be affected so deeply by the performances of Julisa Rowe as the Mother and Rachel Kostrna as her miserable daughter Jessie.
The haunting sense only gradually creep up on you. It’s in a way that’s similar to how the Mother only gradually sees that her daughter means it when she says point blank that she’s going to kill herself. Jessie doesn’t say she ‘wants’ to kill herself. Rather, she firmly declares she intends to do the fatal deed that very evening.
She won’t be deterred by her mother’s imploring which gradually reaches a high pitch of pain that Julisa miraculously manages to sustain. It’s that pitch which starts off as a slow burn. The Mother initially attempts to distract her child from her intended end. Mother tries to make light of the matter. She suggests Jessie try her favourite foods, hot cocoa and a caramel apple, the kind only Mother can make.
But the mother flubs it. What’s worse, Jessie’s end game seems all the more inevitable as she insists her mother tell her truths she had always wondered about. Like did Mother love Father? No. That’s what Jessie thought, but the daughter did, even though her father took his own life and left her alone.
And why did Jessie’s husband Cecil also leave her? Mother spills the painful truth: he had another woman.
But what perhaps is the most painful truth the Mother tells her child is that Jessie had epileptic fits from a very early age. She had never told her daughter this before and never even got her diagnosed.
The first time Jessie realised she had a problem was when she had a frothy fit in Cecil’s presence. The story got spun that Jessie only started getting fits after she fell off of Cecil’s horse.
Night, Mother is a captivating and complex story about everything from depression due to ignorance and communication breakdowns to the shame associated with the social stigmas of epilepsy and depression.
But back to the haunting feeling I was left with after watching this Sanifu and ACT Kenya production featuring Dr Rowe, the actress and former Daystar University drama lecturer and Rachel Kostrna, the professional dramatist from Oregon, US.
Julisa portrays a simple woman from rural America who hasn’t a clue that her daughter is suffering from severe depression, which had reached the point of despair and no return. It’s probably the way the Mother finally recognises her own insensitivity to her child’s pain that is so painful to watch.
Equally excruciating is the way the mother’s native intelligence finally kicks in and she sees she’s got a life and death struggle to wage in order to save her daughter’s life. Tragically, it’s a struggle she ultimately will not win.
Night, Mother is hardly a happy play. My feeling is it’s almost impossible to watch without weeping with the Mother and her hopeless recognition that she had no power to change her daughter’s mind.
The feeling of helplessness in the face of death doesn’t feel like play acting on Julisa’s part.
One is haunted by the mother whom the actress seems to know in her bones and marrow as a pitiful creature. She plays a mother whose love is not strong enough to make her daughter see life is still worth living and hope is still something she can hold onto.
Ultimately, both the mother and the child are trapped at many levels. What’s more, the Pulitzer- prize winning playwright of Night, Mother, Marsha Norman, makes us wonder if, in the end, the daughter is more honest with herself than her mother had ever been.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.