Intwasa Arts Festival and Umkhathi Theatre Works are set to present Bayethe Nkosi, a theatrical production centred around the last days of King Lobengula and the battles his impis fought with the white settlers in an effort to resist colonisation.
The production written by Thabani H Moyo, directed by Matesu Dube and concept by Nkosikhona Ndlovu, will be presented at the Bulawayo Theatre on October 7- 8.
Dube told Standard Style that the play seeks to correct, preserve and promote Zimbabwe’s rich history and cultural heritage.
“It is a re-imagination of the heroic historical events that King Lobengula and his impis got engaged in,” Dube said.
“The play corrects some of the misinformation surrounding Lobengula’s role in the colonisation of Zimbabwe.
“It will act as a historical record.
“It depicts Lobengula as a strategist who fought to defend colonisation by white settler and faced immense pressure from outside and inside his own state.
“The play pays tribute to some of the gallant sons and daughters of the Ndebele State who fought alongside Lobengula.
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“General Mtshana Khumalo is one such heroe that the play pays tribute to.”
Dube said Bayethe Nkosi exhibits and relives the burning of King Lobengula’s Royal capital at Emahlabathini.
“Lobengula ordered the burning of the royal town as per tradition and fled towards Shangani River,” he said.
“The play explores how natural forces favoured the fleeing king making it difficult for the white settlers to capture him.
“In an imaginative way, it highlights the final battles of Lobengula as having had some spiritual interventions.
“In the final battle, the Ndebele warriors outwit Major Allan Wilson led white forces with mastery at the battle of Pupu on December 4, 1893.
“The battles highlights how the occupation of Matabeleland was not a stroll in the park for colonisers.
“Highlighting the heroic acts of Mtshana Khumalo will reinforce his declaration as a national hero by President Emmerson Mnangangwa.
“The Ndebele forces managed to wipe out the 34-strong patrol team that was pursuing King Lobengula.
“The fact that Mtshana Khumalo has been declared a national hero makes Bayethe Nkosi a national theatre project that celebrates Zimbabwean history.
“The play also symbolises the beginning of a protracted resistance against settler colonial regime.”
Dube said the battle of Pupu marked the disappearance of King Lobengula as General Mtshana Khumalo and his regiment blocked his capture by the colonists.
“His whereabouts were never known again,” Dube said.
“The play also pays tribute to Queen Lozikeyi who took the leadership role after the disappearance of Lobengula.
“The play is told in captivating dialogue that is weaved with storytelling.
“Because of the events that it focuses on it uses a lot of poetry and chants that will leave the audiences in awe.
“Above all Bayethe Nkosi also taps into traditional dances that help to investigate the Ndebele culture and belief systems.
“As one analyst noted the play is centred around one of the rare historical occasions when the British settlers fell to the spear as a weapon of war pitted against gun power.
“It is a story that must be celebrated.”