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New Rooftop play revisits Unity Accord

Itai Mushekwe

A CONTROVERSIAL play revisiting the Unity Accord signed between President Robert Mugabe and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo in 1987 derides the truce

as a hoax throwing the spotlight on how tribalism has fuelled divisions in the country.

The satirical play, Tomorrow’s People, directed by award-winning playwright, Raisedon Baya, lays blame on Mugabe’s government for running down the economy, accusing its leadership of corruption, tribalism, and hate while branding it as “enemies of peace and progress” in a unique jocular theatrical vein.

Tomorrow’s People, which premiered at Theatre in the Park in Harare last week and ends tomorrow, made its first public performance during last year’s Harare International Film Festival and was fortunate not to attract the eyes of the Censorship Board, which could have easily swooped in and embargoed the telling play.

The cast includes Bulawayo’s veteran Amakhosi theatre actors and actresses Zenzo Nyathi, Aleck Zulu, Edith Katiji, Mandla Moyo, Sitshengisiwe Mpala and Julian Tshuma.

Tomorrow’s People is told through two families, one Shona and the other Ndebele, who support different political persuasions. The families clash after their children, Nimrode, a young Shona man and Yakani, a beautiful Ndebele woman, fall in love and plan to tie the knot.

Yakani’s father, Ndiweni, is against the whole idea accusing Nimrode’s people of treachery and corruption which has turned their country “into a bearer cheque republic”. The militant youth leader of Ndiweni’s political party Barnabas declares:

“People of tomorrow, the cleansing of a nation needs nothing but a revolution. The ruling party are enemies of peace and progress. Enemies who preach peace and progress during the day and kill us during the night. To our enemies we say this country can never be for one tribe alone, it is for us all.”

However the imaginary ruling party where Nimrode is a youth cadre is reluctant to seek unity and continues with its oppressive tendencies against the opposition. Ndiweni adds that: “We were duped into signing the Unity Accord.” Rooftop Promotions executive director, Daves Guzha, who is producer of the critical play, this week told Independent Xtra from South Africa where he is attending a business meeting that there are topical issues in Zimbabwe which cannot be ignored and need to be discussed because “either way, they continue resurfacing”. Guzha said it was incumbent upon theatre practitioners to produce what people “want and are talking about”.

“There are some issues that we believe cannot be hidden, because they continue cropping up,” said Guzha.

“Any society that refuses to discuss its own issues is in danger of being swallowed by its own mistakes.”

This is not the first time that Rooftop has releashed a politically-ladden satire. Early this year, the stable presented Pregnant with Emotions, which criticised government’s urban clearance blitz, Operation Murambatsvina. Another production by Rooftop that sent tongues wagging in the past was Super Patriots and Morons.

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