THE KNIGHT: Rogers Williams Mpaata is a Ugandan theatre activist, artist and creative director/co-founder of the Social Enterprise (FourSum Uganda). The brain behind controversial political theatrical production, (32 Years 27 Citizens) , Mpaata is vocal against human trafficking and launched the End Trafficking Campaign Uganda that uses art and theatre to fight against this vice, writes Gabriel Buule.
Who is Rogers Williams Mpaata (Otako)
Rogers Williams Mpaata is a Ugandan theatre activist, artist and creative director/co-founder of the Social Enterprise (FourSum Uganda). Commonly known as “Otako” the “autodidact”, I have been engaged in community theatre, a participatory form of theatre where I work with communities all over Uganda for the past nine years.
I started using the creative arts in 2016, as a means to empower children and youth and to support them in sensitizing their very own communities. Besides, I often collaborate with other artistic hubs in order to raise awareness on other critical issues in the Ugandan society, such as sexuality, sexual violence, social justice or protection of environment.
Tell us about your activism, art and film journey?
I started activism as a high school student at Kiira College Butiki in 2003. We had what was known as the Bitter Facts weekly comedy shows every Monday. When I joined Kyambogo College in 2007, I introduced the same shows which were usually showcased during school assemblies.
In these shows we always talked about the daily issues that were affecting mainly the students within the school and the communities around and most of the times the school administration would get to know what needed to be done. For many years I have been able to produce different documentary films, videos that are focused on raising awareness on ending child/human trafficking and social injustice. I pioneered the successful end child trafficking campaign Uganda that uses theatre, dance, documentary film and other creative arts to fight child trafficking. I have also been in a number of Uganda films such as the popular TV series Yat Madit.
Is it true that most activists hide behind activism to get money and fame?
Ahaaaa… I think that every person has a reason they choose to be activists. Therefore I cannot answer on behalf of other activists around the world. Personally activism gives me happiness and sense of oneness with others that is why I am among the poorest and less known activists in spite of having impacted society nationally and globally.
What do you want most in a relationship?
I expect mutual commitment, love, trust, respect, and support for each other. I expect adequate communication so that everyone is on the same page.
How many ex-girlfriends do you have?
First of all I do not know the definition of ex-girlfriend therefore that makes it difficult for me to know how many ex-girlfriends I have. But I have one special lady in my life who is my girlfriend.
Would you marry a woman who uses make-up?
I would marry a woman regardless of what she applies on her body because it is the heart that I fall in love with and marry not the body. I have no time to look at a woman’s appearance but the inner heart that I always fall in love with.
You are a professional film maker why did you join activism?
Activism makes me happy because I use it to voice what hurts the voiceless and create safe spaces for them.
And these skills I have in film, theatre, comedy, street and community theatre I use them to empower, skill, bring hope and happiness in someone’s life. I am always happy when I talk about things that some artists fear to speak about for example with our Newspaper Theatre performances, I pluck my ideas straight from the headlines.
With our Newspaper theatre performances, here I write and direct about the real political happenings that make it to the news headlines.