Latest News Editor's Choice

News / Africa

Young South Africans launch theatre play on Gukurahundi genocide

by Yanga Mhluzi
24 Mar 2016 at 11:14hrs | Views
Gukurahundi Genocide that took place in southern western parts of Zimbabwe against the Matebele people has been swept under carpet and kept away from the radar of current affairs in Africa and beyond for many years while the sectarian government which was responsible for this genocide still governs Zimbabwe with impunity.

For those not in the know, Gukurahundi is a Shona word that means the first early rains that wash away the chuff before the planting season begins. Put in the context of this great political sin ever to visit our black brothers across the Limpopo River, the meaning of Gukurahundi can be interpreted as a genocide pogrom that was carried out first by Zanu PF government before the birth of a sectarian and one party state of Zimbabwe under Robert Gabriel Mugabe in the 80s to late 90s.

History records and proves that people of Matebeleland played an important and pivotal role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and were brothers in arms with ANC and uMkhonto weSizwe via Zapu and its mighty military wing, the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA).

We, the young South Africans have come to know that ANC was a baby of ZAPU. This was recently emphasised by the former South African President Thabo Mbeki. The late Chris Hani narrated very well the battle adventures that were conducted jointly by ZIPRA and UMkhonto weSizwe in Matebeleland against the Rhodesian and RSA apartheid armies for the liberation of our peoples. Victories were won at the battle front against the forces of black oppression and colonialism for a common cause of our liberation.Therefore the people of Matebeleland contributed greatly to the independence of RSA and our freedom.

As young South Africans, we have therefore seen it as our moral obligation and duty to do something about raising awareness about injustices that happened in Matebeleland during the Gukurahundi Genocide pogrom that still continues today in different forms and guises across the Limpopo. This is the main reason why we had to come up with a Gukurahundi Genocide theatre play called ULoyiko.

ULoyiko is a Xhosa word that means fear us. ULoyiko theatre play is all about the Gukurahundi Genocide that took place in Matabeleland in Zimbabwe from 1983-1987.

The genocide is estimated to have massacred more than 50 000 innocent and God fearing Matebele civilians, raped thousands of women and left thousands wounded and thousands of children without parents to fend and educate them.

Millions were displaced to neighbouring countries including the Republic of South Africa and thousands had to seek sanctuary abroad in Western countries and in America. Those who remain in Matebeleland are marginalised and live in perpetual fear and harassment from the state security agents of the Zimbabwean government. They are a captured people whose freedoms are greatly compromised and impinged upon.

ULoyiko play is meant to provocatively expose what really happened during the Genocide and tell the whole world of an untold cruel story at hands of a black government that had just won independence from white Rhodesia.

 It is a narrative that helps to tell the world a very sad chapter of Genocide in Southern Africa, the first ever genocide carried by a black government post the fall of colonialism in our region in Africa.

In the play we bring to life a lived experience of women during the horrors of Gukurahundi Genocide based on true stories that have been narrated by the survivors of this Genocide.

We also bring to life the lived experience of facing tribalism, marginalisation and displacement as narrated by the survivors of Gukurahundi now living in the Republic of South Africa.

We do understand the diplomatic standards and diplomatic parlance that the ANC led government has to follow when handling the Genocide issue with its neighbour but as young South Africans we interact with our brothers and sisters from Matebeleland daily and feel their pain. We therefore have no obligation like the ANC government to be yoked with diplomatic parlance when bringing to life through theatre the horrors of Gukurahundi Genocide that visited our cousins across the Limpopo River.

The aim of this provocative play is to tell the untold story of Matabeleland's lived and memorised experiences of the horrors Gukurahundi Genocide without fear or favour, a story that is forbidden to be told and narrated in Zimbabwe as doing so invites the wrath of the oppressive state machinery of Zimbabwe. The media space and the space for all other forms of narration of this genocide is closed by the Zimbabwean government under the leadership of Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

In Zimbabwe today it is a crime for people of Matebeleland not to speak in the oppressor's language, that is Shona. If they fail to do so, they get arrested under public disorder offences law used ruthlessly by the Zimbabwean Republic Police ( ZRP).

We are made to understand that the genocide continues to take different forms and guises as children at a tender age are forced to be taught by teachers who do not speak their language and in the process violating their rights to acquisition and learning of their culture. Surely as humans of conscience, we decided to join our cousins in their struggle against this injustice and play a little role in shining a light on this inhumanity.

We also understand that the genocide continues to take giant leaps into all sectors of employment across board as well as in land reclamations and re-distribution in Matebeleland.

We are made aware that land in Matebeleland has been taken away from white farmers and given to people of Shona origination at the expense of locals. This is pure genocide in a different form.

The Gukurahundi Genocide is still in motion and full swing in Matebeleland. This untold story has to be told, must be told and will be told in a number of audiences in Africa and around the world. Together we shall triumph against injustice.

We therefore take this opportunity to inform the public, the people of Matebeleland and the world that we are looking forward to launch our Gukurahundi Genocide theatre play in the first week of May in Cape Town and we are ready to travel around the world spreading awareness on this Genocide using a powerful form of the narration of the horrors of Gukurahundi Genocide in Matebeleland in Zimbabwe. T- Shirts about the play are being designed and they will be available in 2 weeks' time.

Any help will be highly appreciated as we are still collecting some resources to launch the play but we definitely do not accept conditional help that goes with changing the content of the script. This is our gift to the people of Matabeleland from young South African Xhosa theatre activists.

Long live Matebeleland long Live!

Contact script writer

Yanga Mhluzi

Source - Yanga Mhluzi, edited by uMthwakazi Review