Friday, November 28, 2008


BULAWAYO, November 24 2008 - Cont Mhlanga, nicknamed the 'Wole Soyinka of Zimbabwean arts, has added another feather to his illustrious career by scooping an international award for his satirical play, The Good President.

Mhlanga revealed Friday that he has been invited to Indonesia to attend the awards ceremony.

The play, which was banned in the country last year, was chosen as the most creative stage performance from Africa.

"I have won another award and I will be travelling abroad to receive it next week. It is an honour and shows that art is very strong and knows no boundaries," said Mhlanga.

The politically charged satirical play summarises the country’s 30 years against British colonial rule, focusing specifically on events leading to Zimbabwe's independence. It goes on to highlight what has happened in the 27 years since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980 - all in one tight hour of compelling action.

The play kicks off with a scene in a police station where two police officers are assaulting the leader of an opposition party, acted by a look-alike of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Movement for Democratic Change.

In addition to beating him up, they search his pockets and steal all his money, leaving him for dead. One of the police officers, Wangu, who had been shown in a previous scene sadly telling his girlfriend that he had no money to meet her demands, is suddenly ready to finance all of her requests.

These events bounce back to haunt Wangu when his grandmother comes to the city for an eye treatment. In one of their many conversations, Wangu is told that his father, himself a former leader of the opposition, was murdered by state agents during the 1983 Gukurahundi, a civil war that erupted in Zimbabwe soon after independence between two ethnic groups - Shona and Ndebele.

This piece of news upsets Wangu, forcing him to resign from the police force as he finds it is pointless to serve a government that killed his father.

The play also touches on the chaos that were generated by the harmonisation of presidential and parliamentary elections held in March. The beating of opposition leaders, the banning of rallies, military imposed curfews in the capital Harare suburbs, all of which are shown as desperate attempts by a government to hold on to power.

It shows how the Mugabe led government is abusing its power by turning entities such as the police and army — that survive on taxpayers’ money — into the ruling Zanu PF party’s campaign material. It shows that instead of protecting and serving civilians, the police and army in Zimbabwe are now being used to serve selfish political ends.

The play attempts to prove that Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, was not part of the founders of Zimbabwe's struggle for independence. Instead, it portrays Mugabeas a man who was roped in because of his eloquence in English – who just happened to be the educated and therefore became “president by design.”

At the end of the play, people who were killed by the government resurrect as ghosts, before attacking and killing the president.




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