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Hifa’s Nehanda play ‘a distortion of history’

Hifa’s Nehanda play ‘a distortion of history’ Mbuya Nehanda
Mbuya Nehanda

Mbuya Nehanda

Jonathan Mbiriyamveka Senior Entertainment Reporter
A play titled “Lovers In Time” which sets out to rewrite and distort the legacy of spirit mediums Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi premièred on Tuesday at the six-day Harare International Festival of the Arts, raising the ire of festival-goers. Of concern was the portrayal of the spirit mediums just before they were hanged by two drunk white men.

The play appears to mock the roles of the two to Zimbabwe’s Independence, as well as African traditions with Mbuya Nehanda being reincarnated as a man and Sekuru Kaguvi as a woman.

“This is not a true reflection of our beliefs and traditions,” one disappointed fan said.
Another said people should not rewrite the history of Zimbabwe.

“This is a sign of the misconceptions with regard to our history. A spirit medium, whether a woman or a man, deserves respect. What we have seen is an attempt to twist the facts,” Reginald Shumba added.

Independent television producer Clive Mandizha sought to get the play banned, accusing Hifa organisers of being distasteful and insensitive in mocking the gruesome murders of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi.

Director and producer of the controversial play, Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska from Poland, yesterday was at pains to defend the production.
“It’s not about factual things, it’s not about  history, it’s not about scholarship either; we just wanted to see if we could look at something that is traumatic, that is fixed and make it more fluid so that people can begin to think about race relations in a different way.”

He said the idea was to induce laughter and that in all it was “deeply respectful both to the national icons and to the tradition of the spirit mediums”.

Dr Piotrowska also appeared to apportion blame to Zimbabwe’s Blessing Hungwe, who wrote the script.

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