There’s something absolutely refreshing about storytelling that goes against the grain.
Where current stories about the history of this country are obsessed with a specific part of our history possibly because history is written by the victor, Dikakapa makes a concerted effort to tell the story of Sharpeville in apartheid South Africa as a hub of political activism - and traces it back to present day Sharpeville and the struggles that its people. Ironically some of who were activists, face in the country today.
Dikakapa is mostly told in Sesotho and features a young and energetic cast that use no props, simply strategic lighting design and their bodies, to best convey the story.
It’s physical theatre at its best, with the cast folding and fusing their bodies to build before the eyes of the audience specific things, like tables or ambulances or bridges for people to walk underneath them.
Its subject matter deals extensively with the impact that exile had on individuals and political families. The production also touches on corruption by Struggle veterans who occupy various key seats in government today, while also attempting to highlight the hardship that Struggle veterans (especially those coming from different political backgrounds to that of the ANC) and their offspring go through today.
— Simphiwe (@SimphiweRens) February 15, 2018
We watch Teboho Mokoena (Teboho P Serapelo, who co-authored the production with Issac E Sithole) go through the challenges of organising against the apartheid regime, become a marked and wanted man by the regime for political activity, skip the border to exile for military training with Apla (Azanian People’s Liberation Army), return to the country after several successful and some unsuccessful attacks against the regime and settle in post-democratic South Africa with his family and comrades, some of whom betrayed the cause to become affluent in the new South Africa.
The play is a detailed account, one you may get lost in if you do not follow closely.
#Dikakapa @MarketTheatre is a heavy hitter! So good I'm going to organise a group booking! Ties up our freedom struggle with the current economic freedom struggle. It could have been written by Mbongeni Ngema it's so good! The acting talent is out of this world. Seamless. pic.twitter.com/pmN1wUvMtk
— First Do No Harm ✌💖 (@jozisoul) February 15, 2018
The cast uses music to enhance the storytelling. One particularly moving scene features student protests against tuition fee hikes at the Union Buildings. A version of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, as popularised by the students, was sung - it was certainly goosebump-inducing stuff.
Watching Dikakapa is like seeing a representation of what the country has become, through the eyes of young people from Sharpeville. It’s a journey of mourning for what we are not but should be as a country, with a stern warning should we fail to see the collective light.
It’s moving, inspiring and will give you hope in the future of South African theatre.