Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Documentary about Kenya’s Forgotten Soldiers

A short film about two remarkable Kenyans, and the killing grounds, correspondences and long shadows that brought them together.

Shot on location in Nairobi, Kitui and Tsavo, Kwaheri Mutava tells the moving story of a war widow who waited 79 years to receive news of her husband in the hope he would return. Bold Content have been working with CWGC to tell the story of their important work around the world. This documentary tells a human-interest story which sets viewers on a path to discover the wider work that the commission do.

War widow Esther’s husband Mutava joined the East African Army Service Corps and served in India where he died on August 1, 1945. Official notification of his death by the army failed to reach Esther. The film follows the Commission’s Kenyan field investigator Patrick Abungu who talks about his search for Mutava’s burial place and captures Esther’s moment of closure when she is given photographs of her husband’s war grave in Kolkata for the first time.

For 79 years, Esther lived without the knowledge that her husband was buried in Kolkata, 6,000 kilometres away. She had never received official word of his death from the military authorities. This is a film about recovering the past, and what it means to live among the dead.
Sadly, very few people are aware of the contribution made by men and women from across the African continent in the two world wars – let alone the human cost of the wars. This film is about changing that lack of understanding. It charts just one human story. It is a story of loss, dignity, grief, closure, and ultimately hope.

From searching for abandoned war graves, to working with communities to promote sustainable heritage and commemoration of those who died, this is a film about the remarkable work taking place across the African continent and elsewhere by the men and women of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as we work to ensure the stories of ALL those who served are better known, valued, and remembered. It is our sincere hope that this work, and this film, will inspire the next generation to discover, learn and remember these remarkable people.

Part of CWGC’s founding mission in 1917 was equality of Remembrance for the war dead. A special 2021 report instigated by CWGC estimates that as many as 100,000 casualties, predominantly Indian, East African, West African, Egyptian and Somali personnel, were commemorated unequally. The CWGC is committed to righting that historical wrong.

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