By Will Barber Taylor
For almost a decade Kenya has been targeted by terrorist attacks of the Al-Shabaab. An atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust between Muslims and Christians is growing. Until in December 2015, Muslim bus passengers showed that solidarity can prevail.
Watu Wote is an important film because it highlights one of the most overlooked and yet horrible terrorist groups currently active today. Al-Shabaab, in this year alone, were responsible for such horrific attacks as the October Mogadishu bombing which resulted in the death of over five hundred people. Watu Wote, however, deals with Al-Shabaab’s practise of finding groups, separating Muslims and Christians and brutally murdering the Christians in that group.
The film is wonderfully directed and throughout, whether you know exactly what will happen or not, the audience feel dread. The climatic events as portrayed in the film are brilliantly foreshadowed to ensure that the audience can have some idea of what to expect. Director Katja Benrath cleverly creates a tone of desperation and fear, similar to that of a horror movie, by his use of camera angles and pacing.
The performances are excellent with Barkhad Abdirahman as Abdirashid Adan and Faysal Ahmed as Al-Shabaab’s leader Hassan Yaqub Ali particularly standing out. The standoff between the travellers on the bus and the Al-Shabaab terrorist it the dramatic highpoint of the film and both Abdirahman and Ahmed play it to their full potential.
Watu Wote is a fascinating film about a moment of hope in an otherwise dark period in Kenyan history. It proves, in the troubled times in which we live, that if we stand together against the forces that threaten our society that we can defeat them. I would highly recommend it.