Hifa Brings Zimbabwean Struggle to Theatre Stage

HIFA 2009, running from the April 28 – May 3 under the theme “Enligh10ment” will explore all aspects of the Zimbabwean way of being, including the struggle towards a better life.

In recent years increasing numbers of Zimbabweans have made the decision to migrate southwards to face the difficulties that this journey brings with it.

Hifa brings its audiences The Crossing, the inspiring theatrical tour de force telling the story of one such journey.

This Zimbabwe – South Africa collaboration brought to Zimbabwe with the assistance of Pro Helvetia, takes an in-depth look at the issue of migration using the medium of high quality dramatic craftsmanship.

Thousands of Zimbabweans have crossed the border with South Africa and risked their lives to look for hope and a better life in that country.

Many have survived the perilous journey only to be faced with vast cultural and language differences. Life for many who succeed in making the crossing southward has been harrowing, especially given the context of general xenophobia (which came to a head in the anti-immigrant violence of mid-2008) in a country seen as a promised land by economic and political refugees from a plethora of African countries.

Based on a true story, The Crossing details the journey of Jonathan Khumbulani Nkala, who made that journey himself. Written by Nkala, The Crossing chronicles his journey from the small city of Kwekwe in Zimbabwe’s Midlands province, to Cape Town in South Africa.

More than just a geographical crossing from one place to another, it is a crossing of cultural and language differences and a crossing over of the human spirit.

The Crossing is a story of innocence lost, and the pain and joys of making a home amongst foreigners.  It is also a celebration of the human spirit, and the inspiring testament of an exceptional young man who has had to cross many barriers, boundaries and borders to achieve the life he envisions for himself and his family.

The Crossing has been over a year in the making; Jonathan Nkala wrote and will perform the story. He is working with acclaimed South African director Bo Petersen in dramatising it and bringing it for the first time to the Hifa stage. Nkala went to South Africa six years ago by crossing the Limpopo River, and he is now the holder of a temporary asylum permit.

He has formed a band called Khumbu Neshamwari, and has performed one of his poems in the South African Parliament on International Refugee Day.

Bo Petersen has been in the theatre industry for 30 years working on productions like Madam and Eve and Known Gods for television. She has also starred in feature films, most notably Death in the Family for which she was nominated for Artes, for best Actress.

The Crossing, as part of a cutting-edge theatre programme put together by Hifa 2009 organisers, is bound to intrigue and inspire Zimbabwean audiences — many of whom have not had the chance of getting a first-hand account of a prominent feature of the contemporary Zimbabwean way of life. — Own Correspondent.