More epic Ndebele plays on cards

Langalakhe Mabena

Celebrated teacher and playwright Thabani Hillary “TH” Moyo, has revealed plans of further writing Ndebele epic plays, as a way of revisiting the history of the nation and making sure that culture is preserved.

This comes after his play Bayethe Nkosi, performed by Umkhathi Theatre Works, won the Outstanding Theatre Production at the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) which were held at the HICC, Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare on 25 February 2023.

The synopsis of the play articulates that Bayethe Nkosi is centred around the last days of King Lobengula and the battles his impis fought with the white settlers in an effort to resist colonisation.
It is a re-imagination of the heroic historical events that King Lobengula and his impis got engaged in.

Umkhathi Theatre Works

After the triumph of the play, TH Moyo, also known as the “Ndebele Shakespeare” couldn’t resist to reveal how happy he was.

“Umkhathi Theatre Works got the Outstanding Theatrical award for the production Bayethe Nkosi. This is the second theatre production to get this award coming from the plays I have written based on the history of AmaNdebele.

“The other play to bag the award (based on Ndebele history) is UMbiko KaMadlenya. The other play Ihloka, got a nomination for the same award.

“This is testimony that Ndebele history is full of exciting incidents that we can tap into to write relevant and interesting theatrical stories,” said TH Moyo.
All the Ndebele history-inspired plays he has scripted are vested and delve into politics.

“I am a student of history and Ndebele language. I feel it is my duty to preserve that history and culture of AmaNdebele.
“However, beyond that, if you study the history of AmaNdebele, you will find interesting historical and political incidents or events that are very interesting to interrogate.

“We have nation builders like King Mzilikazi. His system of governance was very interesting. He delegated duties to his trusted indunas, something that the current leadership learn from him.

“If we look at the world then and compare it to the world we live in now, you will see that there are interesting parallels when it comes to politics and power that I impose on my epic plays.

National Arts Merit Awards (Nama)

“Taking a look at UMbiko KaMadlenya, the play was premised on the political upheavals within the Ndebele State after the death of King Mzilikazi. We see UMbiko being encouraged by his wife to take over the state through force.

“What inspired me to go back to that story was the politics of our country then, which led to the new dispensation,” said TH Moyo.

With the success of his works, the playwright said another epic play to be titled Intaba Yombuso was on the cards.

Intaba Yombuso will focus on the incidents that transpired during a period of “internal conflict when some of Mzilikazi’s trusted indunas crowned Nkulumane as King in his absence. To him (Mzilikazi), that was more of a ‘coup’, as seen in his response.”

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