The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sunday Life Correspondent
Umkhathi Theatre Works is set to premier their latest historical theatre piece, Ihloka during the Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo on Friday.
The annual multi-disciplinary arts showcase, which kicks off on Wednesday and ends on Sunday, offers arts lovers a varied menu of events ranging from poetry, literary art, theatre, music and dance among others.
Matesu Dube, who directed the play, said Ihloka is based on the historical period when the Ndebele resisted colonialism against the British settlers.
The play starts soon after King Lobengula had disappeared and the incident is significant in Ndebele history as Lobengula was the last monarch. It is a historical play based on the 1893 uprisings against invasions, also known as Umvukela waMaNdebele.
“In the play some people viewed the disappearance of Lobengula as marking the defeat of the Ndebele state while on the other hand others took pride in the fact that the king was not captured. This group of people still believed that the king will one day come back and take his place.
“The story goes on to unveil how white settlers went on to weaken the Ndebele as a people by destroying their wealth and livelihood and through systematically putting laws that restricted the number of cattle one could have.
“Fertile land was wrestled away from the Ndebeles and the settlers also went on to shoot their cattle because they had rinderpest. This triggered the uprising. The Ndebele attacked white settlers without warning, killing mostly women and children.”
The play chronicles how the whites retaliated leading to a war and with both sides suffering casualties, Cecil John Rhodes saw it fit to end the war and he approached Ndebele chiefs seeking peaceful existence between the two sides.
The play, written by Thabani Moyo, employs rich Ndebele language, song and dance, chants and traditional praise poetry.
Having a rich experience when it comes to traditional performances, Umkhathi is expected to do justice to the script.
The cast is made of veteran artistes and upcoming talent that includes Ishmael Muvingi, Maqhawe Moyo, Hebson Ncube, Fidelis Tshuma, Leonard Phiri, Darlton Ngubeni, Lorin Sibanda and Thamsanqa Sibanda.