Watatu, set in Mombasa, tackles extremism at the Kenyan Coast. It provides a counter narrative to that given by extremist groups, looking to radicalise young men and women. Watatu also looks at the fractured relationship between the security services and the youth, with extra judicial killings on the rise, tensions between the two are worsening.
Watatu, is the story of three men who lives become intertwined as one of them, Yusuf, a young unemployed Muslim, becomes radicalised by an extremist group. Yusuf’s family and friends feel powerless to help him. His uncle and only father figure Salim cannot find the words to counter the extremist ideology and Salim’s old friend Jack, a local policeman, struggles to gain Yusuf’s trust. As tensions rise in the port city, Yusuf is eventually driven to a desperate and tragic act.
At this point the film becomes a documentary as the film actors take this story as a theatre play to the real communities of Mombasa. These live audiences are then given a chance to take over the roles of Yusuf’s uncle, mother and sister and see if they can change the outcome of the story. Can the people of Mombasa stop Yusuf before he reaches the point of no return?
The end of the film – written entirely by the citizens of Mombasa themselves – sees an alternative journey for Yusuf, his family, and Kenya’s Indian Ocean city.