UNIVERSITY of Fort Hare drama society, Isandi seGubu (The sound of the drum), made history recently by performing the play at the National Arts Festival – for the first time.
The drama society is made up of students consists of students who are not able to study drama at UFH, as the university does not offer the subject. Drama director Yanga Mabetshe said the play is based on the difficulties people have in trying to maintain a balance between traditional and religious values.
Main character, Nondumiso, has a spiritual calling and becomes sick. However, her father, Dalindyebo, who is a born-again Christian, does not believe in traditional African culture and sees this “calling” as the fault of evil spirits.
Nondumiso’s mother, Thandiswa; her uncle, Zakharia; and grandmother, MaDlamini, try to convince Dalindyebo that his daughter needs traditional help but he refuses.
MaDlamini then takes the matter to their local traditional leader, and the whole village is invited to listen to the matter and advise them.
“That is where Nondumiso stands up to her father and accepts the calling in front of the whole village,” explains Mabetshe.
The GO! & Express previously reported (NAF nod for drama society, May 24 2018) that the purpose of the play is to use performing arts to entertain and educate people about the day-to-day social issues faced by different individuals in the community.
“The play teaches us as Xhosa people, and Africans, to value our culture and traditions and to know our roots. The play also portrays the inferior role women are still made to play in African families and in their cultures,” Mabetshe said.
The self-taught artists had their first performance on Monday July 1 at the NG Kerk in Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown). Being their debut performance, the crew was understandably anxious.
“In our first performance, we had some downs because it was our first time on stage where theatric equipment props were present, but we had advice on how to to work our way on the stage.”
Mabetshe said that the criticism and advice was put to good use and helped them improve on their follow-up performances. “This year, the Arts Festival is more like a journey for use all because we are learning everything about acting and we are enjoying every moment of it,” he said.