The Trial of Jack Mapanje completes circuit

The cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba already witnessed The Trial of Jack Mapanje a few weeks ago.

On Saturday night, it was Mzuzu’s turn to complete the circuit as Mbona Arts brought the satirical play to Mzuzu University auditorium.

 The political play written by Stephen Ndhlovu is set in a Malawian prison and it mocks the one-party State for its abuse of power, violation of human rights and brutalities.

The two actors deep in action

It has two characters, Chola, a journalist trained in the United States of America and Ndatero, a university lecturer and playwright. They have both been fighting for change in their respective professions and are both detained at a maximum prison without charge.

Ndatero, played by Duncan Chirwa, is actively involved in the fight for change. He demands change and, unlike Chola, played by Alick Tembo, he is not in a hurry because he realises that change cannot be achieved overnight.

However, it is the inactiveness of the many that preach about change but do nothing that bothers him. Throughout the play, the actors grapple with dictatorship, democracy, change, freedom of expression and suppression of opposing voices.

In a printed message to the audience from his base in London (United Kingdom), Ndhlovu, a Chevening scholar, said although he wrote the play 12 years ago, the message is still relevant in present day Malawi.

“It is 25 years since the one-party repressive and dictatorial regime was voted out of power in Malawi. The fundamental question, for adequate interrogation, at this point is: How far have we progressed safeguarding and ensuring enjoyment of the rights the citizenry fought for? he said.

Mbona Arts has been funded by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) to produce and tour with the play in all the four major cities.

In an interview, Chirwa, who is also Mbona Arts co-fournder, said they have had positive feedback from the audience in all the cities.

He said the arts company will hold other shows in Lilongwe and Blantyre as well as a free show and a workshop on theatre at Dzaleka Refugee Camp. Thereafter, they will hold three free shows targeting six secondary schools in Lilongwe.

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