Hollywood to portray Kenya's "Pirate Whisperer"

Sat Jun 6, 2009 2:26pm EDT
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By Alison Bevege

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - When agents for Hollywood actor Samuel L Jackson came looking for Andrew Mwangura in Kenya, he could not meet them -- he was on the run.

The man they call the "Pirate Whisperer" was dodging both local authorities and well-connected criminals who were chasing him for exposing the international links of a wave of hijackings afflicting the busy international shipping routes off Somalia.

"I said I was in trouble, come back again when the coast is clear," Mwangura told Reuters in an interview at Mombasa port.

Tinseltown plans to make an action movie about the piracy scourge. Jackson is to play Mwangura -- the quiet 47-year-old founder of the non-profit East African Seafarers' Assistance Program with seemingly unrivalled contacts with maritime groups, ships, ports and even pirates around east Africa.

Himself a former seaman, Mwangura breaks news time and time again on seizures and releases of ships by Somali pirates, revealing details of ransom payments in what has become a multimillion dollar business.

He is a hero to seamen, but a pain for the pirates' financiers, said to be sitting in Nairobi, Dubai and London, managing the business by calls to the gangs' satellite phones. There are strong suspicions that officials in the region could be involved, and Mwangura has not been shy of saying that.


Now Jackson and filmmaker Andras Hamori have secured the rights to his life story -- but getting a chance to sit down and talk scripts has been more difficult than expected.   Continued...

<p>Andrew Mwangura, director of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Program, talks on his cell phone after an interview with Reuters in Kenya's capital Nairobi June 3, 2009.REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya )</p>