Rugged Priest is a film based on a true story about a former American marine who became a Catholic priest. He has lived in Africa for about 25 years. Suddenly he sees things that he does not like: people getting kicked out of their land, where they lived a lifetime, houses torched, women raped. He is not happy and realises neighbours attacked these people. The reason behind the attacks is the incitement by politicians who want to get rid of those from other ethnic backgrounds. These people who came in peace bought the land and lived there for many generations. Although politicians claim that these people must be sent away, they want to retain power and influence in their constituency.
The priest then starts telling politicians that they are wrong and tries to make people elsewhere aware of the situation. The politicians get angry and take vengeance against this priest.
The storyline is solid and brings to sharp focus the injustices of a nation where the high and mighty seem to think they can do virtually anything and get away with it. The plot, however, seems a bit rushed and compressed in many areas. The rush is, perhaps, to stay within the film’s tight budget.
In an interview after the film’s premiere, Bob himself admits they had to slash the script’s storyline to fit the budget. Budget constraints or not, Rugged Priest is yet another demonstration of Bob Nyanja’s prowess at film direction, and he does an excellent job of it. Rugged Priest has received international accolades, scooping a Golden Dhow award for best feature film at the 14th Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) held in July in Stone Town Zanzibar.