New Zealand-based writer,, who rocked the Harare International Festival of the Arts with his 24-hour Theatre Challenge, has returned with a new play titled Wusiku, that will be staged at the University of Zimbabwe tomorrow.
Report by Tinashe Sibanda
Makuwe said the play was inspired by his encounter with an airtime vendor in Harare in 2010.
His realisation that the vendor was a police officer trying to supplement his salary pushed him to pen the play.
“He (the vendor) said he was doing it for his young family. I found it really astonishing that a police officer, who at daytime commanded respect in the community, had become so socially disadvantaged to be reduced to a street vendor,” said Makuwe.
Directed by Charles Matare, Wusiku is a tragic tale of a young, underpaid junior soldier named Wusiku, who murders his wife Maria for infidelity, before he takes his own life.
Although exhibiting symptoms of mental imbalance, Wusiku loves his attractive wife so much.
They live in a single room in an army compound. He takes up menial jobs — from maintaining the Colonel’s garden and washing his feet to selling airtime recharge cards on the streets — to supplement his meagre salary. All his earnings go to his wife’s upkeep.
Wusiku is caught in a web when Doctor Mashungu, an over-the-top ambitious doctor, believes he has discovered a drug that prevents the transmission of HIV and wants to test his new find.
When the Colonel introduces Wusiku to Dr Mashungu, the health practitioner announces his intention to test the drug for a fee that goes to his wife, Wusiku agrees to be used for the drug trial.
He is injected with the drug then forced to be intimate with HIV-positive women. During this period, he is not allowed to sleep with Maria.
The Colonel, who has always had eyes on Maria, seduces and beds her.
When Dr Mashungu is satisfied that Wusiku has been exposed enough to the virus, he conducts a public HIV test on him to prove to the world that he indeed has made history. Wusiku tests positive, a result that shocks the doctor.
The plot develops and things get heated when out of anger, Dr Mashungu discloses to Wusiku that the Colonel is sleeping with his wife.
Wusiku confronts Maria and she denies the allegation. He approaches the Colonel, resulting in a fist-fight that Wusiku loses.
The next day he finds the Colonel dancing with his wife in their room. The Colonel escapes and Wusiku stabs her to death in front of their baby before he stabs himself.
“In recent days, stories have been appearing in the media about an HIV drug trial being carried out on Africans. Some of the Africans, who participated in the trial, though initially negative, tested positive at the end of the trial. In my opinion, these tests were done on socially-disadvantaged people,” said Makuwe.
Matare, who is the director, said the play was bound to excite the audiences as it tackled issues affecting people daily including infidelity, HIV and Aids, poverty and exploitation.
Cast members include some of the country’s most talented actors like Matare, Nothando Nobengula and Chipo Bizure.
“Through this play, we encourage authorities to give room for the poor to have a say on how their daily troubles can be dealt with,” said Matare.