Kwathu Drama Group returned to the stage over the weekend premiering a play titled Lekeleni with a call to well-wishers and the corporate world to support them so as to hold performances across the country.
The prominent drama outfit, which has been in existence for over 40 years, returned to the stage after being out for almost a year following the demise of its director Eric Mabedi, popularly known as Jakobo, in the theatrical circles.
The first performance was at Gymkhana Club on Easter Saturday before dating Mulanje View Hotel on Easter Sunday and then debuting at Golden Peacock in Blantyre on Easter Monday.
In Blantyre, Kwathu has been staging their plays at Blantyre Cultural Centre but with the venue, especially the amphitheatre, in a pathetic state and yet to be rehabilitated by the government, the group decided to go to Golden Peacock.
“We are excited to be back; it’s been long but we had to give ourselves time to mourn our pillar Eric Mabedi. It has not been easy but we will ride on. This play was ready by December but we had a challenge with the venue and then Covid has been a thorn in the fresh of performances and it was the same problem when we were with Eric Mabedi,” Mphoka, who scripted Lekeleni, said.
He also zeroed in on the issue of resources, saying they do not have a sponsor for now and that for the three performances they held, they made contributions on their own with support from other Kwathu lovers.
“We have so much to offer, in terms of both new and old plays, and we are eager to reach out to every corner across the country and those who can support us, they are welcome. Companies can come forward and in return we will market their services at our shows,” Mphoka, one of the longest serving members, said.
He admitted that they are yet to get to the level where they are supposed to be, in terms of their performance, having been out for some time.
And true to Mphoka’s words, the group, which has indicated it will hold more performances next month, needs to tighten some loose ends in the play, which tackles issues of love and infidelity, among others.
The play, in which Kwathu uses the same style of engaging with the audience in between the performance, tells the story of a rich couple played by Mphoka and Linda Chatha, where the man takes advantage of his wealth to trample on poor people’s rights.
Owning a fleet of trucks, he takes advantage of his wealth to entice his truck driver’s wife to go into an affair with him, not knowing the couple of Moses Mandebvu and Emma Chikwembeya was committed to their love despite not having enough.
The climax, spiced with the ambience of a song by Soldier Lucius Banda titled ‘Ndisiyileni Kanga’, sees Mphoka being exposed and getting arrested.
“We have people who have money and they use it wrongly. We are saying money cannot buy everything. We have issues of corruption and several other problems because some people have taken advantage of their wealth to get favours,” Mphoka said.
National Theatre Association of Malawi Board Chairperson Timothy Chikoja hailed Kwathu for the production.
“It’s the same Kwathu with educative plays and the issues being tackled happen in our day to day life,” Chikoja said.
The cast includes Bon Kalindo, better known as Winiko, and Ferguson Magona.