Renowned media personality and veteran actor Jimmi Gathu is recounting how different life was for creatives back in the late 80's and early 90's.
According to Jimmi the Kenyan theatre was in more ways than one owned by the government and directors/scriptwriters had to present their written plays to the government for scrutiny and hopefully a go-ahead.
However, more times than less, most plays that touched on politics or tried to depict the government in a bad light were automatically denied.
"I don't know if guys know this but those days you couldn't do political plays you had to get permission from the government," started off the veteran actor while making an appearance at 'Cleaning The Airwaves' podcast.
Jimmi assured his interviewer that he wasn't even exaggerating the severity of the issues back then maintaining creatives had no real freedom of expression.
"You'd go ask for permission... you take your script there it is read, read and perused and then sometimes they would be like, 'naah this one is talking badly about the government you can't go ahead with it,'" the renowned media personality emotionally recounted as he mentally revisited that dark era and the struggle for artistic freedom that they went through back then.
He went on to recount that he had submitted a Russian play but even trying to use a foreign language to navigate past the bureaucracy didn't help his case.
"There is this Russian play, first time we wanted to do it we couldn't! That famous Russian play, Government Inspector...We were told, hii ata kama inaongea ki Russia, hii hapana.
This is 1989, 90 and 91. Anything with political undertones was getting cancelled, you'd just be told no and there is nothing you could do," narrated the 53-year-old theatre guru.
Jimmi went on to recount the very first guy to imitate the late president Daniel Arap Moi and how the guy used to randomly get arrested for imitating the then-president.
Giving the late actor his flowers Jimmi went on to narrate the tales of the Nderitu and how much trouble he was.
"So I got into theatre and I met the late Johnny Nderitu, the first guy to imitate the voice of Moi!
The likes of KJ [and Nyambane] are standing on the shoulders of the late Nderitu. First time he talked like Moi we all panicked, we hid underneath the tables shivering, screaming knowing baas tumeshikwa ( we would be arrested)" Jimmy humorously recalled.
Finishing up he added;
"There was one time he did that voice, couldn't care less, in theatre... alishikwa akatupwa central (he was arrested and thrown in the cells at the Central Police station)
He was released, went to the bar had a few drinks and started imitating Moi again! He'd get drunk and start, 'sasa mimi nilishikwa (ni Moi's voice) and we are like Johnny please please stop! Tutashikwa.
Every time we saw Johnny Nderitu we'd hide because we knew this guy would go to the bar, get drunk, and start imitating Moi and we would get arrested,"