Vusi Kunene. Picture: Supplied
Vusi Kunene. Picture: Supplied

Vusi Kunene tackles effects of looting in Zakes Mda’s 'The Mother of All Eating'

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Mar 19, 2021

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Zakes Mda’s timeless play “The Mother of All Eating (… and the looting continues!)” chronicles the devastating effects of greed, theft and corruption in South Africa.

Written and staged for the first time more than 30 years ago, the “satirical masterpiece” is still relevant to this day.

The play centres on the character of The Man, the principal secretary to a government minister.

The Man is corrupt to the core and has enriched himself by looting government funds.

The play is performed by South African legends, Vusi Kunene and Thulani Nyembe and award-winning directors Khayelihle Dom Gumede and Phala Ookeditse Phala at the helm of the production.

Expanding on his role, Kunene said: “The character I'm playing, ‘The Man’ has done well for himself.

“He asks you what would you do, in his position.

“That's what I believe people should come and see and experience.

“And see what answers they come out with, after the show.”

“This is something we only read about when we were fighting oppression.

“Now we live with it.

“It seems to have become our language now.

“It is the fear of being poor.

“Even when we can't afford, we want to look like we can afford… The fear of looking poor.

“Even when we put our hands up to do things for a good cause.

“Our good intentions get swallowed by the culture of “eating.”

Echoing Kunene’s sentiments, Phala commented: “’The Mother of all Eating’ has become resemblant with governance in South Africa, both in the government circles and in the private sector.

“One is reminded of Malidoma Patrice Somé in ’Ritual: Power, Healing and Community’ when he says: “A person who wastes is a person who insults the gods.

“In light of the waste encountered in the modern world, one wonders if … people are aware of priorities other than materialism.

“Although at the heart of the play is The Man’s opulence acquired by the means of corruption, we wanted to keep the set simple, as the play is told in retrospect when ‘The Man’ has lost it all, as his corrupt ways had caught up with him.”

Vusi Kunene and Thulani Nyembe. Picture: Supplied

Phala says he hopes that the play will help audiences realise just how much the culture of corruption has crippled the already weakened our economy.

“Corruption and bad management practices eat into the nation’s wealth by channelling money away from such critical services, resulting in a creation of fiscal distortions and lack of resources.

“It threatens sustainable economic development, ethical values and justice; it destabilises our society and endangers the rule of law.

“It undermines the institutions and values of our democracy.”

“The Mother of All Eating (… and the looting continues!)” is currently showing at the Market Theatre until April 11.

Tickets are available from R90 at Webtickets.

For more information visit Market Theatre.

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