HomeLife & StyleIndigenisation takes centre stage at Theatre in the Park

Indigenisation takes centre stage at Theatre in the Park


A San traditional healer’s intrusion into a new farmer’s house somewhere in the middle of stretchy estates proves imperatively reflective.

The intruder, Bathusi Tloutlou, turns not to be a lost hunter on a poaching spree the Mutemas envisage when they see the short man in animal hides entering their property armed with a bow and arrows.

Tloutlou proves he is not an ordinary San prone to communication hurdles in such a scenario due to language barrier. He is “indigenous” and takes the Mutemas to task on pertinent issues about the welfare of the country.

Issues such as land ownership and wildlife conservancy are in the mirror at Theatre in the Park through a play titled Indigenous, Indigenous, Indigenous that ends tomorrow.

The play, which opened on November 8, boasts an experienced cast involving Silvanos Mudzvova, Zenzo Nyathi, Chipo Bizure, Sebastian Maramba and Nothando Nobengula.

While the general assumption from theatre lovers was the play would tackle the current craze surrounding indigenisation, playwright Steven Chifunyise proved he could stretch debate to diverse angles.

He brings up the issue of land ownership through the Mutemas determined to strongly guard a farm they got through the land reform programme.

When Tloutlou says he has come to talk about land, Mutema becomes furious suspecting the San traditional healer has come to fight his family off the land.

Mutema talks about “my trees, my animals and my river” as he tries to convince the San he owns everything on his farm and no one should ask him about how he manages his “assets”.

Tloutlou values traditional ownership of land and tells Mutema he should consider the effect of his activities on the farm to the community.

He confronts Mutema about environmental degradation.

“You are destroying land through your granite mining activities and cutting down of trees. How would you feel if someone goes to the Heroes’ Acre in Harare and starts blasting that hill?” Tloutlou asks.

The San’s other concern is about the preservation of sacred places. Besides environmental and traditional issues, the play also reflects on important political events when the Mutemas openly tell Tloutlou they used jambanja (violence) to get the land.

Mutema’s daughter Naledi angers her parents when she takes sides with Tloutlou arguing the San healer has important points that should be considered.

The play also pursues the issue of cultural differences when the family fails to understand some of Tloutlou’s gestures.

They are also surprised at how fluently the San speaks English.

But their greatest shock comes when the farm guard is called to evict Tloutlou from the house. The guard and Tloutlou recognise each other and embrace.

They talk of the last time they met during the liberation struggle. The guard — a war veteran — tells Mutema the San was an important ally of liberation war fighters.

Director and producer of the play Daves Guzha said he was excited working with an experienced cast and veteran playwright on such an insightful play.

“I respect Chifunyise so much. He has the experience and expertise and I believe many of you will agree with me that this play is a masterpiece,” said Guzha.

Chifunyise said he had a tough time compressing many issues in one play.

“Initially I wanted it to be a one-actor play, but I later realised that there were so many issues to explore and we ended up with this cast.

“I am pleased that the director and the actors have done well to come up with this massive production,” said Chifunyise.

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