First Culture

Watu Wote: The Kenyan Movie About Religious Disputes Nominated For An Oscar

Directed by Katja Benrath as her graduation project at Hamburg Media School, Watu Wote which translates to mean All Of Us chronicles the true-life story of the December 2015 attack on a bus traveling  from Nairobi to the town of Mandera by Al-Shabab terrorists in which the Christian passengers were shielded by the Muslims.

The Muslim passengers when asked by the gunmen to split into groups vehemently refused reportedly informing the terrorists to kill them together or leave them alone and even helped disguise some of the Christians despite threats from the militants to shoot

Kenya has for several years now been the focus of the anti-christian group regardless of it’s generally impressive rate of religious co-existence. On Saturday, September 21 2013, Al-Shabab militants attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi killing 67 people. In the bus attack on a Mandera bound bus in November 2014, 28 people were killed and in April 2015 when they attacked the Garissa University College, they singled out the Muslims and Christians through a rigorous vetting process and eventually killed 147 people.

Written by Julia Drache with the assistance of Alexander Ikawah and Brian Munene, the 22 minute short film nominated for a 2018 Oscar weaves the petrifying event into a poignant story that follows the life of Jua, a young Christian woman who is going to visit her ailing mother when the bus is hijacked. Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Adelyne Wairimu are some of the cast members who aid in bringing this story to life. 

Competing to clinch the Academy award for the Best Short Film (Live Action) Watu Wote has to fight its way through the other nominees which include Reed Van Dyk’s  Dekalb Elementary, The Eleven O’Clock by Derin Seale and Josh Lawson, The Silent Child by Chris Overton among others. The 2018 event holds on March 4th.

Speaking to CGTN Africa, movie producer Bramwell Iro stated that he felt very honored to have been able to tell what he described as an important story especially in this time. While we agree with Iro, we also think Watu Wote would have been an important story at anytime.

That there is never a wrong time to tell a story of kindness, coherence despite religious differences, a story that illustrates how standing together in the face of tyranny, embracing our countless similarities, and willingness to lay down our life for another whose belief may be different from ours is a gift so powerful it shakes animosity to it’s very foundations.

Watch the Trailer below.


Featured Image: Oscar



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Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke

Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke

Senior Editor working out of East Africa.

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Watu Wote: The Kenyan Movie About Religious Disputes Nominated For An Oscar

by Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke time to read: 2 min