A tale of Scamtho, Ringas and Kwaito

Lusanda Zokufa

Ekasi Lam, written and directed by Jefferson Tshabalala, seeks to use Scamtho Poetry as a vehicle to tell a unique township story about South African Kwaito.

  “Kwaito music is inescapable in this Mzansi. It is ours. A creation that was and continues to be authored by the black lived experience and it engages black life. In Kwaito, we have a national treasure; a monument to the township, and to black life. In this era where we are in need of proposing compelling “new” offers to the existing and potential theatre-going market, we ought to meet abantu where they are, and Kwaito is that place,” says Tshabalala.

   Tshabalala has built a strong following for his live performances and an artistic reputation that is cutting-edge, innovative and daring to subvert various genres. His audiences love it.

  Tshabala creates magical experiences in a theatre by adding layers to the genres that he works with to subvert it and even to advance it.

  Ekasi Lam is is dubbed the Kwaito-Anti-Musical. The cast is a fierce ensemble of six, comprising of Andisiwe Mpinda, Kopano Tshabalala, Gugu Dhlamini, Mathews Rantsoma, Lucky Ndlovu and Simpho Mathenjwa.

  Set in a high school in the South Western Townships, this production seeks to use Scamtho Poetry as a vehicle to tell a unique township story about South African Kwaito, and how its vast catalogue has offered timeless nuanced vignettes and a myriad of insights about how the majority of Mzansi are living.

  “It is an introspective look at ourselves, through our most refined lens of art. As odes go, they are lyrical, emotive texts of praise, and Kwaito is just that to black life,” says Tshabalala.

  Tshabalala and Bernett Mulungo, the musical director and composer; who also appears in the work as a pianist, have co-written an ode to Mzansi Township Life and the music that best encapsulates the lokishi – Kwaito.

  Ekasi Lam features an enigmatic Dr Tlale, a dedicated principal with the vision of building the most advanced school in Soweto, and a former learner of his who now teaches at the school, the feisty Ms Feni who looks to be a part of growing this vision by contributing a new way of looking at poetry and how it is taught; this by introducing Kwaito to the literary syllabus.

  Boipelo, Liyana, Malibongwe and Khumo are the pupils whose lives sit in the actual reality of these two grand dreamers. All else, is Kwaito, for it is as though every song fossilizes unique urban memories into its every grove and pattern that weaves it.

  Ekasi Lam is presented by Kiri Pink Nob in association with the Market Theatre. The production will premiere at the Market Theatre from 21 August – 8 September.

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