Produced by The Company@Maitisong
Devised by the cast and University of Botswana Visual and Performing Arts students
Directed by Gao Lemmenyane
Documented by Tumisang Baatshwana
Born Around Here is supported Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture in Botswana
Marang G. Molosiwa, Itseng Bame Modukanele, Kabelo Tshepiso Mojuta (see below for cast and crew profiles)
Recently, the world watched in horror as xenophobic attacks against Africans nationals sprung up in different townships around South Africa. The attacks were allegedly committed under the pretext that foreigners were grabbing economic opportunities from locals, peddling drugs and committing crimes. What is evident is that many South Africans do not understand how other African nations assisted the South African liberation movements during apartheid. The hospitality and the sacrifices made by ordinary Africans as well as deliberate efforts by African governments as host countries, collecting taxes from their nationals to support South Africans in the struggle may be unknown by many South Africans.
The Company@Maitisong has created a new theatre production that highlights how Botswana and Zambia contributed to the South African struggle for freedom. It traces the story of Zakes, a South African refugee running away from the brutality of apartheid South African government, arriving and living in Botswana, marrying a Botswana citizen and undertaking underground operations between Gaborone and Lusaka. This story is interrogated through human relations and how ordinary nationals in host countries interacted with South Africans. It further examines human vulnerabilities and fears and exposes the human elements of love, compassion and the African concept of Ubuntu.
The presence of political refugees in other countries posed grave danger to the nationals of host countries. On the 14th June 1985 the South African apartheid government bombed houses in Phiring, Gaborone, Botswana. Twelve people were killed and six injured. Only five were South African refugees. In the coming years, more houses were bombed and even more people killed. Zambian nationals and Batswana were constantly harassed accused of harbouring ‘terrorists’ as the apartheid government intensified assault on their home soil. Residents were traumatised and people began to live in fear. These are some of the incidents that characterised the period building up to the demise of apartheid in South Africa. The victims’ families are to date living with scars of losing loved ones, property and belongings during the attacks.
These stories are either unknown or have been conveniently forgotten. Born Around Here highlights the contribution made by African nations towards the realisation of democracy in South Africa by using Botswana and Zambia as examples. The work is relevant now more than before in the wake of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa. It is a reminder to South Africans that they would not have achieved democracy if it was not for the hospitality of African governments and their nationals.
Furthermore, the play interrogates whether there is acknowledgement that there are still victims of apartheid in African countries other than South Africa, and poses questions of possible compensation. Born Around Here holds a mirror up to South African society and compels them to reflect on Africa and its role in the struggle for freedom.
It is our hope that through this work, knowledge will be imparted about the African continent and its people in order to build bridges and create tolerance and understanding. The production is devised by the cast with the assistance of the University of Botswana Visual and Performing Arts students.
Special thanks to all those who contributed to the research process: Prof David Kerr, Mr David Slater, Ms Gaolape Basuhi and Ms Sinah Molefhi for giving us insight into what was happening in Gaborone during the late 70s and 80s.
Born Around Here will be reworked with Cape Town actors, musicians and director at the Artscape. The team travels to Cape Town from 16 September to 27 September and will perform as part of the Artscape Heritage Festival (24 – 26 September). The show is booked to perform at the State Theatre in Pretoria in August 2016 as part of the Women’s Month. It will be showcased on Tuesday 15 September at Maitisong with the Standard Ovation Award winning production Morwa: The Rising Son by Tefo Paya.
Born Around Here is supported by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture in Botswana. For more information call Maitisong 397 1809, Gao Lemmenyane 72266221, Tumisang Baatshwana 72987579.
Marang Galaletsang Molosiwa is a former child star and television personality. She holds a degree in drama from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She is a MC of note at corporate events. Her directorial debut production is Ketswakae, in which she also performed and premiered during the 2015 Maitisong Festival.
Itseng Bame Modukanele holds a degree in drama from the University of Botswana. Born Around Here is his professional debut production. He has experience in stage management and is part of the radio drama Madi Majwana: Stories from your Pocket produced by The Company@Maitisong.
Kabelo Tshepiso Mojuta has many years of experience as a theatre actor in industrial and community mobilisation campaigns. Notable work is with Re Teng campaign – advocacy theatre for development work for minority languages in Botswana, and the ‘PULA! Money Matters’ and Madi Majwana: Stories from your Pocket theatre productions by The Company@Maitisong. He is currently a voice over artist for season two of Madi Majwana, the radio drama.
Gao Lemmenyane (director) is the Director of Maitisong Festival. He is the former Head of Arts at Wits University. Lemmenyane was educated at UCT and Wits University where he obtained Undergraduate degrees and Masters Degree respectively. He produces and directs for radio, stage and television. Recently, he directed two of Donald Molosi’s theatre shows – Blue, Black and White (2013) and Today It’s Me (2015). He works as part of The Company@Maitisong, and as producer of Born Around Here and Madi Majwana: Stories from your Pocket.
Tumisang Baatshwana (writer) is a dancer, choreographer and award-winning writer. She is the founder of Sky Blue Dance Hub, a contemporary dance company based in Gaborone, Botswana with notable achievements since its establishment over two years ago. She is the head writer of Madi Majwana, the radio drama and stage production, and documenter and contributor in Born Around Here. She is a part of the team that will tour Artscape with Born Around Here in September 2015. Baatshwana is a member of The Company@Maitisong, and producer on Born Around Here.
Born Around Here poster designed by Alastair Hagger @ Maitisong