Any cow will do? Not in modern Uganda

Thursday September 12 2013

By Bamuturaki Musinguzi

A theatre group in Kampala has come out to address the cultural practice of arranged marriages in a new play, Any Cow Will Do.

The play, which was recently staged at the National Theatre in Kampala by Namasagali College students, shows how cultural conservativism is still strong in modern Uganda, and the conflict between tradition and modernity.

Any Cow Will Do is the story of Cruz Kweruka (Roy Tumwizire), a young man who has returned to the village after a university education abroad. He is given a warm welcome by his parents and clan.

But trouble begins when he discovers that his father (Raymond Rushabiro) has already arranged for a village girl to be his bride. Yet Cruz has found the love of his life, a city girl named Emma (Joanne Natabadde Kibuka) whom he is not about to give up for anyone else. His father insists that he follows tradition but he refuses.

“What is love got to do with marriage? Love comes later, after marriage,” his father says, pleading with Cruz not to abandon culture and tradition.

Arranged marriages

Cruz does not believe in arranged marriages and is adamant about marrying the girl he loves. This is the cause of the friction between father and son, which ends with the father disinheriting the son.

Cruz’s mother (Maimuna Tumusiime) is however more sympathetic and blesses his marriage with Emma.

But when they return to the city, Emma falls in love with a stranger Karl (Mathew Nabwiso).

Unknown to Emma, Karl is a married man hired by Cruz’s father to seduce her in order to test her love for Cruz. When they discover that this was a hoax both Emma and Cruz are angry with his father.

In the end, the father is forced to bless their marriage.

Written and directed by Kwezi Kaganda Ruhinda, the play will be staged at the National Theatre again on October 20.

The show involves a cast of 30, all former students of Namasagali College. All proceeds will go to the Father Grimes Foundation, which trains university students in leadership, speech, critical thinking, etiquette, ethics and integrity.

The foundation was set up former by Namasagali College students to honour Rev Fr Damien Grimes for his 31-year contribution to Uganda’s education system. Grimes founded Namasagali College in 1967 as Uganda’s first private school and was the headmaster up to 2000.