Kisumu residents were yesterday left disappointed after Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o failed to turn up for the premiere of ‘Black Panther’.
The film, in which Lupita plays a major role, was screened at the Mega City Mall in Kisumu at 7 pm Tuesday, February 13.
Reports had it that the ’12 Years A Slave’ actress would be gracing the screening in her native hometown but Kisumu County Executive for Tourism, Sports, and Arts -Achieng Ojany Alai – has set the record straight.
Speaking ahead of the premiere, Ms Alai announced Lupita’s absence saying the actress did not assure her followers of her attendance.
“Lupita did not say that she was coming for the premiere. I think we would have all wanted her to come, but her diary is not controlled by the Kisumu County Government; it is her schedule with her producers. However, she has sent all her love and her best wishes. The most important thing is that she has gifted us the movie and Kenya gets to host it. Kenya being the first African nation to have this event, is a great privilege,” said Ms Alai.
The Tourism CEC further stated that all was not lost, given the number of interested foreign and local visitors arriving in Kisumu for the premiere.
“In terms of her not being here, that is not all lost. In terms of numbers coming to Kisumu, it has been an amazing flood of people coming in, including the international media. All the international communities around the lake region have also come into the region; the hotels are reporting great bookings, the airlines are full. That is a good indication that the movie is receiving its due attention. But most certainly that Lupita comes from Kisumu County is an amazing opportunity and that Kenya gets to showcase her talent and we get to be the first to see it!” she said.
In Lupita’s absence, Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili will be the chief guest at the premiere.
Lupita’s father and Kisumu Governor Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, who has been in the U.S. for treatment, arrived yesterday but could not make it.
“Prof. Nyong’o returns to the country today(Tuesday), though he will not make it for the premiere. The rest of the Kisumu County Government is present to represent him, under Deputy Governor Mathews Owili,” said Ms Ojany.
Ojany urged those who traveled far and wide for the premiere of the ‘Black Panther’ not to feel disappointed with Lupita’s absence.
“She is one of our own, she is going nowhere; she belongs to our country. Yes, she is not going to be there for the premiere, but this is her home. She will be in and out as she always does. But that does not mean that since she is not here, we have lost out; that means that we will represent her really well as Kenyans in her absence,” she said.
In the movie, Lupita plays a major role, starring as Nakia, a high-ranking member of the Wakanda royal family.
The film tells the story of T’Challa aka Black Panther, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
“I can say that Nakia, when we meet her, is a war dog, which means she’s one of Wakanda’s CIA agents,’ Lupita said.
“Her job is to spy around the world and report back to Wakanda to keep Wakanda safe and keep Wakanda informed.”