Saturday, April 4, 2020

Motho le motho kgomo: UB story

As part of their 25th Anniversary celebrations, two alumni from the University of Botswana produced and directed a play acted out by UB students titled Motho le Motho Kgomo. The production transposed scenes from the era when Batswana contemplated campaigning for donation of cattle, that led to the building of the national university 25 years ago, and present day UB students who (as presented in the play) are spoiling for a riot.

The opening scene launches with riots as a few students voice their reasons for protesting in demand of their monthly stipend; it is unclear if the stipend is late or if it is a raise they want. The personal reasons for rioting are so trivial ranging from having ‘commitments’, to one being a self-proclaimed feminist and thus baying for her money.

It is unquestionable that the UB cast are good performers, as they juggle the multi-roles convincingly and spoof act as themselves (UB students). Though highly entertaining with rich nuances from every day Sekgatla speech, as almost all the cast are Bakgatla of Mochudi, the play does not give depth to the story. The university janitor, who is the vein between scenes, has an interpolation of a snippet from his own home but forever angrily rolls with rhetorical questions. The only personal revealed is that his UB student daughter, also rioting and is ashamed of her daddy as she tries to fit with the In crowd.

He mentions that even churches heeded the campaign and pitched in, and indeed there is a spirited church scene that, however, does not truly explore how churches took part in the process. This play also risks trivialising students grievances, as the rioters are silenced, miraculously heeding the angry janitor as the students bail out on a character named Saddam who has ‘commitments’ and must revolt. The play makes for highly entertaining viewing as it is biased towards burlesque comedy.

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