Durban — A local inkosi has said traditional leadership has a huge role to play in fighting gender-based violence (GBV) and he expressed gratitude for the use of theatre as a tool to fight the crime.
Inkosi Mpiyakhe Zikhali of uMhlabuyalingana in uMkhanyakude District said theatre had opened their eyes to what goes on behind closed doors. He said he appreciated the KwaZulu-Natal district theatre festival held at Mbazwana Arts Centre in uMhlabuyalingana.
The festival, themed “Fight against GBV”, was attended by the MEC for Sport, Arts Culture and Recreation, Amanda Bani-Mapena, and by groups and participants from around the province who showcased their talent.
uMkhanyakude District mayor Siphile Mdaka said in a world where communities were confronted by the ravages of GBV, one of the best hopes and interventions was to speak about it daily. Theatre offers that chance for the affected to speak up and speak out, and to never look away, he added.
“Therefore the district theatre festival is seen as a vehicle to fight social ills such as substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, GBV and unemployment.
“GBV undermines our efforts for a peaceful and stable society. It destroys families, friends, communities and pits all of us against each other. It creates an environment where women’s voices are dwarfed by those of males in the most patriarchal fashion,” Mdaka said.
Bani-Mapena praised the efforts: “Theatre is here to teach us it is okay to speak up, to speak out and unmask those who perpetrate violence, for it is their demonic behaviour that destroys the fibre of society.”
She said the theatre played a pivotal role in the development of youth and community in general, including behavioural change, social cohesion, moral regeneration and nation-building, eradicating social ills and instability.
Bani-Mapena said those exposed for perpetrating GBV should be isolated.
“I also need to touch on abduction. I wish to plead with amakhosi and izinduna to play their part in frowning on this old-fashioned practice. I plead with the leaders to report this to law enforcement agencies. I urge you to stop condoning it by making the perpetrator and his family pay a fine of a goat or cow. That is not fighting the scourge, but encouraging it.”
She added that theatre unveiled opportunities and other fields and allied talent for local scriptwriters, actors and directors from among the youth, women and senior citizens.
Bani-Mapena praised the “exceptional talent” showcased by the districts, and their anti-GBV messages. Festival participant Bongeka Mathenjwa, of Mbazwana, said: “This theatre festival has given me so much empowerment as a young woman. It proved fighting GBV is possible, but above all, it brought so much about social issues that confront us.”
The Newcastle group Laugh Out Loud walked away with R10 000 prize money and a trophy as the best theatre ensemble, battling it out with nine other groups in the district.
Drakensberg Community Arts and Umsindo Theatre eThekwini South took the number two and three spots, walking away with R8 000 and R6 000 respectively as well as trophies.
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