Student - May 10, 2007

‘Shake your sitting facilities’

Actor and teacher Stephen Rwangyezi is a man with two faces. One moment he’s the passionate leader of a group of young dancers from Uganda. ‘Shake your sitting facilities,’ he shouts to the audience. The next he’s donned Western clothes and is telling the story of the most ruthless dictator in African history. ‘Even today, the Idi Amins are not in short supply.’

Dancers of the Ndere Troupe from Uganda perform in LA13.
Rwangyezi had been invited for the Uganda Festival in Wageningen, which took place last week at LA13. The mixed audience of Dutch and international students got to see the Ndere Troupe of young men and women dancing to the beats of traditional music. The Movie-W auditorium was much too small, and the energy of the youngsters from primary school and high school had the theatre bursting at its seams.

They started with a dance from the foot of the mountains in the West, ‘where love was invented’, as Rwangyezi put it. The irregular rhythm of a heart that’s in love became louder and more intense with each jump of the boys, and every shake of the girls’ hips. They danced like cows as well, to show the Dutch how proud they are of their animals. Rwangyezi taunts: ‘Dutch cows have not completed evolution! Where are their horns?’ But he comforted his audience as well. ‘If you’re feeling jealous, it’s OK,’ he says after his lengthy praise of Ugandan women. Indeed, there is much to be jealous about, watching the girls dance with as many as eight small pots piled high on their heads.

After the break the scene changes. In comes a different man, his head bare and a serious expression on his face. Rwangyezi the actor was in the Oscar-winning movie ‘The last king of Scotland’, that was shown during the Uganda Festival. More than that, he was 16 years old when the subject of the film, the dictator Idi Amin, came to power. ‘People should know about him, and how his psyche is rooted in African history. I could write pages and pages of names of people who were killed, just for opposing the president.’

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