Nkhokwe Arts, a newly formed group that is mostly made up of ex-prisoners, showed the best of drama and dancing skills on Friday during their performance at Kachere in Blantyre.
The group has been moving around Blantyre holding shows to sensitise people to how to apply for bail but also tell stories about prison life.
On Friday, they performed at Njuli before dating Kachere market in the afternoon.
It is always difficult to attract the attention of people, especially in a market but Nkhokwe managed to do that.
When they were starting their performance, there were only a few people dominated by children but, by the time they were in action with their play, the place was packed.
Their act started off with some traditional dances which were one of the key elements that brought people closer.
It was after the traditional dances that saw the members dress in a funny way with some of them putting on wigs as if they were women that they performed a play.
The play kept the audience attentive from the beginning to the end and, in between the scenes, they would stop the performance and engage people in question and answer.
Such was the beauty of the play which also carried an important issue of how to apply for a bail and the processes you go through as well as highlighting some of the challenges people encounter when found on the wrong side of the law.
Impressed with the performance and the message in the play, some people showed their happiness by splashing money.
There was even a moment when the actors shared their experiences of life in prison and one of the highlights was that prisoners eat once a day and that they are packed like sardines.
Most of the actors in the group have developed drama skills having been trained while in prison by Nanzikambe Arts and other groups.
Now that others are out, they decided to form a group to propel their skills.
Renowned actor Mphundu Mjumira, who is working with the group, said after the performance that most of the ex-prisoners have the skills which need not be buried.
“Most of the people in the group are ex-convicts, they have the skills and we thought of pushing them now that they are outside. You can now see what theatre is doing to them. These ex-convicts have been transformed and have something to do,” Mjumira said.
Mjumira said they observed that a lot of people are ignorant on how to ask for bail, hence taking people this drive.
The group’s project coordinator, Maxwell Makande, said Nkhokwe Arts is making progress and hailed Centre for Human Rights, Education and Advice for utilising them.
“People are learning a lot on how to apply for bail in the areas we have visited, different organisations and companies can utilise us and, as it has been indicated, most of the actors are ex-convicts,” Makande said.
He said having been trained in drama skills and other areas while in prison, they are now telling their stories and changing others.
Makande said they want to do more and be involved in different projects such as sensitising people about the environment among others.
Some of the ex-convicts in the group were part of the Chichiri Prison Cultural Troupe.
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