Aubrey Sekhabi, artistic director of the State Theatre in PRetoria. Picture: Sanmari Marais

New production reflects on GBV and xenophobia

Thakgatso Setseta

A new production commissioned by the Department of Arts and Culture, in reaction to the recent xenophobic attacks and gender-based violence in the country, will be presented at the South African State Theatre from 1 to 15 December 2019.

  The production, called Kwanele, is written and directed by multiple award-winning playwright and director Aubrey Sekhabi, and choreographed by Mdu Nhlapo. It is performed by an ensemble led by National Orders Award recipient Sibongile Khumalo, who is accompanied by new compositions from Mckenzie Matome and the youthful Bonafide Billi, with narratives from Otto Nobela and Mimi Mamabolo of the celebrated South African movie Matwetwe.

  Kwanele, (Nguni for ‘it’s enough’) is a thought-provoking presentation capturing real-life events and personal accounts of victims to lift the theatre mirror high for a reflection of what is currently going on in South Africa, which has developed into a microcosm of violence against women and children, and xenophobia. 

  It calls for accountability, decisive leadership and an end to corruption that has made SA and the continent so poor, and as a result created a fertile ground for conflict and violence. 

  In the mix are cultural explosions in song and dance, illuminating the beauty of our cultures, reminding us that we can unite in our difference.

  In September this year, the State Theatre was tasked by the Department of Arts and Culture to devise a production – on a brief to enhance the promotion of culture and peace amid women killings and xenophobic attacks – that could be presented under the Festival of Cultures during the first Biennale of Luanda – Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace, which took place in Luanda, Angola. 

  That was the birth of Kwanele. The product debuted to an overwhelming reception during the forum, which took place from 18 to 22 September.

  Sekhabi, who is also State Theatre’s Artistic Director, says: “Kwanele is a hopeful call for Africa to rise, to silence the guns, to protect women and children and take care of the youth, who are future leaders. While the presentation is exciting and entertaining, it asks the people of the continent to reflect on how to move forward as we build a new Africa, devoid of conflict and violence.”

  Kwanele will form part of festivities of the theatre’s annual festive season festival called Mzansi Fela Festival. Now on its 12th instalment, this year the festival will be headlined by musicians: Zonke, Thandiswa Mazwai, Caiphus Semenya, and Ringo Madlingozi and Samthing Soweto from 1 to 22 December 2019.

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