June – Scene 3

Scene 3: Tree-cutting and Poverty

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This sketch was written by a group of young men and women who drew on real-life experiences to develop a play which presents the complex social issues of urban poverty in Walukuba today. They sought to draw attention to poor working conditions and employment opportunities, the weight of responsibility to provide for a family facing rising living costs in town, and finally the police violence faced by young people. The scene opens with two men on the factory floor. Forced to work in unsafe conditions for five thousand shillings a day, one man is sacked after taking a short unauthorized break, despite having worked at the factory for 15 years; one example of the poor working conditions faced by people working in Jinja’s factories. With no ability to appeal, no working labor unions, and little knowledge of labor rights, the man is forced back onto the street where, with few skills and no formal education, he must seek alternative ways to support his three children who need school fees, food, clothing and shelter. Reluctantly he agrees with friend to illegally cut down some trees just one time to raise cash. The local defense catches the two young men in the act and capture them, calling “Police! Police!” The scene was frozen at this dramatic moment and audience members were invited to discuss what should happen next.
On resuming the action, the police arrive with batons and begin to beat their victims. The rest of the cast rush in to defend the men. Raising a banner that reads ‘We are Walukuba’ they chase the police away and sing a song of unity.