Set in Lesotho in the 1980’s, The Mother of All Eating is an adaption of renowned South African writer, Zakes Mda’s classic that exposes the greed, destructive mindset and tragic effects of government corruption.
Part of the ongoing Maitisong festival, the play is a satiric monologue that lasts for just over an hour and is performed by Tefo Paya and directed by Mahaola Ndebele, with music by Bernett Mulongo.
The play focuses on the issue of corruption, which is also termed ‘eating’. The play centers on a corrupt principal secretary to a government minister who is very corrupt. Through his corrupt dealings, he has enriched himself but all goes wrong when a government tender gone wrong eventually comes back to haunt him.
Ascending from the steps in a white suit worn with a black shirt, Paya, who plays the role of Mr Modise, arrives home to find his wife not home. He then gets a visit from various people he had corrupt dealings with, some of whom being high ranking officers, such as the Director of Department of tenders who wants a share of the money obtained from the corrupt deals. The play indicates that the shortest and quickest way to get rich is through corruption.
Through the play Paya, also touches on the issue of patriotism and acts out that it applies to some while others want to get rich while others get poor in the name of being patriotic.
As the play unfolds, it also brings in the issue of greed and indicates that, as people get rich from corruption, they get greedier.
As the name depicts, The Mother Of All Eating shows another detail, which is that of not saving money that comes in through corrupt methods. Paya acts this out and says, “As the money comes in, you spend it and don’t save up yet.”
Showing his well-polished acting skills, Paya switches from character to character in the monologue. Towards the end, he assumes his role of being a villain and brags about how he got transferred to another department after his corruptive ways were discovered.
He cites the first reason as being when those in higher office discover a corrupt official, they promote him because they want to shut them up lest their secrets come out. The second reason, he states, is that it is because they want to learn the skills from the corrupt officer because of his expertise and skill when it comes to corruption.
As the play ends, the corrupt deeds end, catching up with Mr Modise whose wife had a miscarriage after she and Joe (Modise’s friend) had an accident while driving on the road whose constructor did a shady job. The same constructor was also involved in corrupt dealings with Mr. Modise.The corrupt deal comes back to haunt Mr Modise and his extravagant life comes to an abrupt end as his corrupt partners also abandon him.