A play on the Gukurahundi massacres entitled 1983, The Years Before and After by Jahunda Community Arts was recently staged at the Hillbrow Arts Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Play director Adrien Musa told NewsDay they had received an invitation to stage the play at the Hillbrow Theatre where plays from South Africa and others by Zimbabweans are showcased.
Musa said being invited to perform in Johannesburg was a breakthrough for the group and Gwanda community in general.
“We want to thank the Hillbrow Theatre Festival organisers for inviting us to perform there,” said Musa.
The play stole the show in Gwanda in August at the Youth Arts for Peace Festival sponsored by the National Youth Development Trust where a number of groups performed.
In September, Bulawayo police attempted to ban the group from staging the play at the Bulawayo Theatre.
However, the courts ruled that the arts group should go ahead with the play in observance of the organisation’s right to freedom of association and assembly as set out in section 21 of the Constitution and the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in section 20.
The arts group later performed at the venue without incident. Police are known to attempt to ban plays that focus on sensitive issues.
1983, The Years Before and After focuses on the Gukurahundi era where thousands of innocent civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces were massacred in cold blood by the North Korean- trained Fifth Brigade in an operation that the government claimed was an assault on “dissidents”. The operation started in 1982 and was only halted five years later.
Told through a young lady, the play takes the audience back to that dark era that President Robert Mugabe has referred to as a “moment of madness”.
The young lady in the play looks for her parents when she grows up, only to discover that she was “a product of rape” during Gukurahundi.
Hundreds of women were raped during Gukurahundi. The play features a cast of five seasoned actors.