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INDABA ENGIZOYIXOXA (article first published : 2001-08-24)

Personal stories of Apartheid brutality, injustice and the complex issues of truth and reconciliation will be staged alongside various international debates and presentations at the upcoming World Conference against Racism, when acclaimed South African play, The story I am about to tell – indaba engizoyixoxa opens at Kwasuka Theatre in Greyville on August 29.

The story I am about to tell is performed by the Mehlo Players, a group of three actors comprising Ramolao Makhene, Mcendisi Kenneth Nkosi and Dan Robbertse and three survivors of apartheid human rights abuses - Catherine Mlangeni, Duma Kumalo and Thandi Shezi), who are members of the Khulumani Support Group.

Together with producer Bobby Rodwell, writer Lesego Rampolokeng and director Robert Coleman, the Mehlo Players began workshopping ideas and experiences around issues of truth and reconciliation, racism, brutality and injustice in 1996. Almost five years later the play has been performed to both local and international acclaim and remains one of the most harrowing, yet honest and humorous testimonies to emerge from the “era” of truth and reconciliation in South Africa. This is groundbreaking theatre, particularly in the context of South Africa today, where the window dressing of a united “rainbow nation” often overshadows the real-life and long-term psychological damage that apartheid and colonialism have so successfully inflicted over generations.

In short, a truly South African performance that transcends universal experience.

Not surprisingly, The story I am about to tell is one of the main items on the cultural programme at the World Conference against Racism. Sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture, the play will run over five days at various times, giving delegates and visitors the chance to engage in a unique theatrical experience in between conference presentations. In the spirit of the conference proceedings, debate and discussion are woven into the play with the cast welcoming questions, comments, and observations from the audience at the end of each performance.

As has been proven in the long and often acrimonious negotiations in the run-up to the World Conference against Racism, there is no grand catharsis that can be offered when you are sifting through remnants of the brutality that people have suffered. The story I am about to tell raises important questions about the notions of justice and the wholesale marketing of truth and reconciliation in South Africa, by the TRC, political parties and local and foreign media. Many of these questions remain unanswered or ignored both in South Africa and in the international community, making them even more pertinent at an event of this nature.

Performance dates and times are August 29 at 19h30, August 30 at 14h00 and 18h00. September 1 at 12h00 and September 2 and 3 at 14h00 and 19h30.

More details from Bobby Rodwell on 082 577-6363.




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