The cast of Kgolo. Picture: Supplied
Watching Kgolo exposes the audience to Setswana culture at its best. 

The musical features an ensemble of singers and dancers who allow the traditional Setswana music and dance to shine through them. 

Ntirelang Berman’s choreography, which borrows from the Sophiatown/ kofifi dance style, and those of the Khoi people, fuses beautifully with Setswana traditional dance to create high-energy enhancements to the scenes.

Kgolo is a light-hearted drama about a young man named Oganne (Ontiretse Manyetsa) who ends up being at the centre of a family crisis due to his decision to not perform specific cultural rites properly. 

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To add insult to injury, Oganne then moves to Vergenoeg, near Kimberley, where he marries a coloured shebeen queen, which his family regards as taboo. The family is then struck by a series of unfortunate events. 

The land bears no crops for them to eat, some of the livestock die and Oganne’s aunt becomes terminally ill. The family believes all of this bad luck has been caused by Oganne's refusal to perform sacred cultural rites. 

The cast of Kgolo. Picture: Supplied

The process they all go through to undo the curse is both hilarious and emotional.

The story challenges a number of stereotypes while striving to remain light-hearted and entertaining. It is set in the 1940s, so while most socio-political issues had not gained traction, the play challenges attitudes towards inter-racial relationships and the role of women in society and business. 

It also delves into the relationship in, particularly black communities, that exists between observing religious practices versus tradition and the performing of cultural rites.

Most of the dialogue in the production is in Setswana, the only exception being when the character of Elsie, played by relative theatre novice Gaoimelwe Mokgakala, speaks. The rest of the cast speaks to Elsie in English that is not exactly grammatically correct, but keeps the audience entertained.

Mokgakala (Elsie), Manyetsa (Oganne), Peter Mashigo as Oganne’s Uncle Baruni and Seputla Sebogodi as the village's Kgosi give stellar performances. It is, however, Gaolathle Mathenyane, who plays Uncle Sups, and Madge Kola, who plays Ragadi Makukama, who steal the show. 

Kgolo. Picture: Twitter

Makukama is the aunt we're all at pains to avoid at family gatherings: She is loud, brutally honest, has a healthy relationship with alcohol and is not afraid to take anyone on.

The production as a whole gives the audience a solid storyline to follow, with trials, tribulations and many laughs along the way. The presence of veteran actors like Sebogodi and Mashigo creates a beautiful balance between the cast.

The set is quite simple, with various items being added and removed as they are needed. The wardrobe features vintage costumes, which fit in well with the period in which the play is set.

Kgolo is a great opportunity for theatre-lovers to go and watch one of our indigenous languages dazzle on stage. 

A word of caution though: While you may be able to follow the play as it unfolds through the body language of the cast, their expressions and the music, you may want to brush up on your Setswana so that you don't miss out on anything. It is a celebration of the language, after all.

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