Good show for Dikamawoko
After a two-year hiatus, Dikamawoko Arts are finally showed they are still in the theatre game when they staged their two-act play Taking Madiba on Saturday afternoon at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre.
The picture that some people had of Dikamawoko was that they had run out of steam as far as theatre is concerned.
But they still have oil in their tank to stage the performances and they proved that on Saturday, impressing with Taking Madiba which stars Tawonga Nkhonjera, who is the director of the group, and Constance Thyangathyanga.
Not an easy feat to star in a two-act play but Nkhonjera and Thyangathyanga coordinated well to keep the audience on their toes throughout the production which was initially a one-act play but had to be beefed up.
Directed by South Africa’s actor Xolisa Ngubelanga, who was instrumental in creating another act in the play, ‘Taking Madiba’ looks at the life of Madiba.
Madiba is a name that needs no introduction being that of South Africa’s former president the late Nelson Mandela.
He served as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a democratic election.
Mandela died on December 5, 2013 aged 95.
He is widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice and he received more than 250 honours – including the Nobel Peace Prize.
Although the play looks at the life of Madiba, it also zeroes in on issues affecting the country.
‘Taking Madiba’ asks questions on the killings of, among others, Epiphania Bonjesi and Fanikiso Phiri.
It also makes fun of the Malawi national football team, alias Flames, which has not been doing well.
The play looks at how Madiba helped to inspire Bafana Bafana to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and their rugby national team, The Springboks.
Nkhon j e r a p l a y s t h e role of Grim Reaper while Thyangathyanga is starring as The Creator.
The play, which opens with Nkhonjera singing a Tumbuka song before Thyangathyanga joins him, is a depiction of Madiba’s qualities and characteristics when he was alive.
The soul collector, Grim Reaper, is going about his business, collecting souls and next on his list is Madiba — Nelson Mandela.
On account of the nature of the man, Grim Reaper has qualms collecting Mandela’s soul, much to the chagrin of The Creator and she makes her case known in clear terms that no matter what, Grim will be taking Madiba.
The play uses simple props and the two actors converse without getting out of stage until the end.
There is room for improvement for the production where the creator needs to show all his powers, as in some cases, she does not act like she is the creator.
“It’s a good play, although it talks of Madiba, there are issues it tackles relating to Malawi. Again, from Mandela, we can learn a lot of things. Actually more issues can be brought in because I feel the story is open,” said one theatre lover.
She also said that this was one of the plays that politicians and other people in top jobs need to watch.
Thyangathyanga said this was officially her first time to star in a serious production as the last time she was on stage was in secondary school.
“It seemed complicated but we managed to work things out. The script was developed as a one-act play but, having worked together with Tawonga Nkhonjera in one of the projects, we decided to freshen things up,” she said.
She said there is humour in some of the elements in the play while looking at the life of Madiba.
“Madiba was an icon and it is good to emulate the life he lived,” Thyangathyanga said.
Nkhonjera said it was amazing to be on stage again and that the audience was super.
“Nelson Mandela is a universal figure and it makes sense to talk about him and we learn a lot from him. I believe people enjoyed it,” he said.
The actor added:
“People should value the life they have right now, they need to love the next person, helping those that need help and all these were part of Madiba. We need to take care of the environment.”
Nkhonjera also said they want to expose this kind of theatre which, among others things, minimal props.
Jacaranda Cultural Centre and Maison de la France deputy director, Daisy Belfield, heaped praise on Dikamawoko for a wonderful performance.
“This was a very good performance. There is potential and people enjoyed the play and everything was good. The turnout was also very good. The centre is growing strongly and people are now getting to like the place,” he said.
Belfield said currently the centre is exhibiting Kenneth Namalomba’s works titled ‘The Forbidden Fruit’ and that they are looking forward to hosting more events during the Blantyre Arts Festival in October.
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