I treated myself to a trip to the theatre this week, to see Obama the Mamba, at the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays. And a treat it was, sensitive, thought-provoking and surprisingly gripping for a show with only the bare bones of a plot.
For those who don’t speak Swahili, the title needs explaining – what is a “mamba”? – and is likely to lack punch as a result. But to the Swahili speaker the title hits home immediately, throwing up a very different question in the process: why is Obama being called a crocodile? The answer is that this not about the Obama you know, the US President, but rather about his half brother, George, and his life in Nairobi. George was given the street name “Mamba”, because of his quick aggressiveness as a member of a criminal gang in the Huruma neighbourhood of Nairobi. He has written a book that tells his story, the inspiration for this play.