When it comes to the dark days of the apartheid regime, it was mainly black South Africans who suffered at the hands of this oppressive system that brutalised their lives. Unknown to many people, there are untold stories of Africans who risked their lives to assist oppressed South Africans in their struggle. Born Around Here ÔÇôa homegrown theatrical play that staged at Maitisong recently, is one such story that highlights this seemingly forgotten contribution.
Born Around Here is a gripping tale that tells the story of Batswana who were victimised by the apartheid regime during the 60s through to the early 90s. Directed by Phala O. Phala, it brings to the spotlight how countries such as Botswana and Zambia contributed to the South African struggle for freedom.
Portraying an old man whose heart was heavy with the loss of a child, actor Teto Mokaila had some of the audience in tears with his poignant performance as Rra Sheila. “Material things can not heal the bleeding heart of a parent who lost a child unlike money which comes and goes.Nothing can bring back lost life, a life lost is lost forever,” he narrated.
The story also focused on Zakes, a South African refugee running away from the brutality of the apartheid government, arriving and living in Botswana, marrying a Motswana and undertaking underground operations between Gaborone and Lusaka.
Throughout the play, we saw the power of human ties coming together for a common cause. It also examines human vulnerabilities such as fear,loss, love, compassion and the concept of Pan Africanism as wells as Ubuntu. Occasionally, the cast broke into hymns and struggle songs, which complemented their raw performances.
“It is our hope that through this work, knowledge will be imparted about the African continent and its people in order to build bridges and create tolerance and understanding,” stated project facilitator Gao Lemmenyane.
The talented cast comprised of Teto Mokaila, Kego Ratsie,Naledi Thabakgolo, Itseng Modukanele and Kabelo Mojuta. Born Around Here has also showcased in Cape Town as part of the Artscape festival.