“Room of Lost Names” and “Cooking Oil” are two powerful plays by Sitawa Namwalie and Deborah Asiimwe respectfully. There are many similarities between them. They both tell the stories of young women who are untimely and violently murdered. The plays aim to convey the social problems that exist within their local contexts. In Kenyan playwright Namwalie’s work, her protagonist is “M”, a young girl who in Purgatory and meets two gods, Gumali and Omuwanga. In order to escape Purgatory, M must remember her name but she cannot. With the help of the gods, she tries to remember how she died and the events that led up to her death. Asiimwe, a playwright from Uganda, writes her play about Maria, a young woman struggling to pay for her education. She earns money by selling cooking oil. However this cooking oil is meant as free aid for a starving village. Maria is caught between the interests of Silver, a politician who tries to maintain firm control over the village, and Bataka, her father who wants her to sell the oil outside the territorial borders. The plays are about the unnecessary violence that erupts when the elite are motivated by their own self-interests.
In my own attempt to reconcile how the plays portray death as significant yet viewed as the norm because of how common violence against women is, I have written the following: