Blacks should flock en masse to see Ankobia, a labour of black love written by Monageng “Vice” Motshabi and Omphile Molusi. Motshabi also donned the directorial hat on this production that wrestles violently with the psyche of an assimilated, indoctrinated and ultimately, a dominated people. This is honest theatre that conceals nothing, forcing the audience to deal with their continued complicity in their dispossession. The production equally forces the oppressor to see their sustained privilege play out on stage as they continue to hold onto the levers of power through a puppet government. Tis dem forces of evil (“white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy”) that attempts to suppress what seems to be a perpetual state of rebellion for black folks in this play set in 2041. The play will leave you shook, discombobulated and feeling some typa way. – Kulani Nkuna.
Ankobia: A Leap Into The Future, A Step Into The Past – Makgotso Nkosi
Time can be a misleading thing it seems. Although Ankobia is set in the futuristic land of Pelodikgadile in the year 2041, the relevancy of this story is immense. The dually written production has intense underlying realities of what South Africa and perhaps other post-colonised countries are currently experiencing.
The creators point out the violence, crime and brutality by the colonial system in a surreal manner, but it is in these unreal realities that the present is explained. The play looks at the combination of Christianity and alcohol as a tool that keeps the dominated of our kind distracted from claiming the land of our ancestors. Although the play subtly dabbles in Dadaism, the idea of brainwash explored as sanctioned amnesia, it none the less has a way of challenging constructed ideas on the role of religion in post colonised spaces.
The story narrates the life of Xhoi, who finds himself serving under a hired religious figure read Jesus. He amongst many others of Pelodikgadile fall victim to the erasure of memory by the government.
The politics in the story are very evident, one song keeps returning to accentuate the center theme of the play, “Land” and this is done beautifully by a multi-talented percussionist whose instruments sound like a yearn, as they hum Sikhalela Izwelethu very soflty.
Ankobia is testimony to the existence of artistic anarchy in the South African art landscape.
Pelokgadile – Xolani Tembu
The year is 2041; the state of Pelokgadile is in tumultuous turmoil, a result of the events that began in 2039. Missionaries with purported powers of Jesus Christ’s proportions have taken over the land of Pelokgadile and its people. Having erased the Pelokgadilans’ natal identities consequently renaming them Christian style, they proceeded to pump in them religious fear, a true mirror of 18th century Southern Africa. Pelokgadilans are under constant monitoring and guard, particularly the all-important rebel leader Xhoi (Alfred Mothlapi), perceived to be the snake’s head by the missionary crusaders. Led by a questionable Ray-Ban shades donning character in papal regalia, the missionary crusaders hunt down all Pelokgadilans with the sole purpose of converting them. A successful conversion of a Pelokgadilan in this regard spells their displacement and land dispossession while enticed by the promise of material and bodily pleasures. Xhoi is captured and equally brainwashed; then immersed in the material pleasures experienced in a state of illusion. Consequently, Xhoi finds himself having forgotten his greatness. He finds himself having forgotten his calling and mission to liberate his people from missionary shackles. Spending his days in a daze of blissful coition, he is suddenly troubled by echoes of his former self as they begin to haunt him, thanks to two uncaptured Pelokgadilans in Kamma (Momo Matsunyane) and Ditukile (Billy Langa), and a battle ensues.
A cross between events of the 10th century crusaders’ holy wars and the 18th century cerebral violation of Africans by missionaries, Ankobia explores the effects of colonialism on Africans through the lens of missionary indoctrination. It explores socio-cultural and economic sacrifices and blunders made by African forefathers and by extension, the African National Congress, to the detriment of their descendants through the use of present day political metaphors. Kamma can be heard calling Dominic (Katlego Letsholonyana) a ‘House Nigger’ as she and Ditukile journey towards unshackling their captured brothers. With ‘the return of land to its rightful owners’ at the centre of this showcase, it is undebatable that Motshabi and Molusi feel black South Africans have woken up. They confirm that in fact, black South Africans, the very descendants of their unfortunate forefathers, have pieced together historical accounts of what happened to their forefathers, their wealth and the land of their birth.
With a definite potential to ruffle feathers in all corners of this country, particularly the highest echelons of our pillaging government, it is left to imagination what the look and feel of boardroom conversations are like in sponsorville. The show’s costume selection ranges from a mimic of collections out of the Star Wars Franchise to those from the acclaimed television serial, Game of Thrones. The vigour with which the show is delivered has left black reviewers salivating with plenty to barf.
*Running until the 13th August 2017 at The Market Theatre at a special ticket price of R90.00 between Tuesday and Thursday, R150.00 between Friday and Sunday; and an added student discount of R70.00, Ankobia is worthy of your diary, though do leave close-mindedness at home.