Can this Gukurahundi Inspired Play Stir National Healing?
Gukurahundi is much like an urban legend save for the victims and perpetrators. This genocide has been far from recognized as the atrocity that it was; one that it is digging trenches in what were fault lines of generational Tribal differences in Zimbabwe.
I recall vividly a time when this historical piece of time could not be referred to by name much like the name of Harry Potter character ‘Voldermont’ – an act that has certainly done more harm than good.
Former President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe who was then the main man in charge is yet to, in honour of national unity address or remedy this, neither has the new political dispensation yet alone contesting opposition for Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections.
Gukurahundi has indeed become the hottest potato, tossed from one burning hand to another and thrown to generations of victims who are asked to simply swallow it and pretend as though nothing of that nature ever happened.
Books like ‘Running with Mother’ by Christopher Mlalazi have made veiled references at risk of exile to the subject taboo, a testament of the undying responsibility Art has in highlighting, documenting and questioning societal actions as they become nearly unforgivable elements of the past as revered tales of history.
A Zimbabwean play is stepping up to the plate in a time where freedom of speech is at an all-time high.; 1983 “The Dark Years” is the story of a young girl’s journey to discover her identity and origin. She travels to the rural areas where she meets an old man who gives her details surrounding the circumstances of her conception and demise of her parents at the hands of the 5 brigade. Told through narration, physical movements,a fusion of percussion and music as well as flashbacks,the play does not use names in order to relate the anonymity of both the victims and perpetrators and at the same time relate the plight of a people who have been forced to be silent in light of these events in their pasts.
According to its synopsis, the Play seeks to foster open dialogue so that affected communities can seek and find healing through truth-telling, seeking and being granted forgiveness on the part of the perpetrators.
Is this the new way forward of Zimbabwe’s national healing? Relating to circumstances and feelings through performing Arts? Plays such as ‘Operation Restore Regasi‘ which sold out on multiple occasions in Harare and around the country have done their share in humanizing participants of the historical change of power in November last year through comic relief.
You be the judge, ‘1983 The Dark Years’ presented by Jahunda Arts shows from the 30th of May to the 2nd of June at Theatre in the Park Harare.