Culture of burying the dead with possessions they once loved is under scrutiny in Diaparo Tsa Mama, heading to the Market Theatre

The production written and directed by Rorisang Motuba, is running at the Market Theatre from March 18-10 April, 2022.

By Edward Tsumele

From a rational perspective, it certainly does not make sense for one to be buried with things they once loved most when they were alive, after all these things will with time simply perish with the body as it rots and becomes part of the soil that it will nourish with its nutrients.. But from a sentimental, spiritual and cultural perspective, especially relating to African culture generally, it makes perfect sense. You have passed on and behind you left valued possessions, possessions that were close to your heart in this life, and therefore you have to go to the grave with them. Interestingly this as If, the things you loved most somehow are made to go down with you, ceasing to exist as well in the process.

Being buried with the things you loved is very much part of African burial rituals, that from the outsider perspective looks like a ridiculous culture, but as practiced, this is serious business. A play that looks into this culture, featuring two sisters grappling with the idea of what must their mother be buried with, will be staged at the Market Theatre. in Newtown.

The two sisters are not worried about such practical things like where and when to bury their mother, and whether there is  enough money to cover the funeral, but what their mother will be buried with, is what occupies them on the ve of herfuneral.. How ridiculous could it be? But it can only be a ridiculous thing to those who are divorced from this culture, and not its adherents.

Now here is the gist of Diaparo Tsa Mama: Returning to the Market Theatre writing sphere is SAFTA nominated writer and director Rorisang Motuba, who brings to theatre audiences a heart-warming drama, Diaparo Tsa Mama (My Mother’s Clothes). The original play follows three sisters who, on the eve of their mother’s funeral, are duty-bound by culture to sort through their beloved matriarch’s clothes in search of the perfect outfit to bury her in. Their sensitive nostalgia morphs into harrowing discoveries about life, grief and family.

Written and directed by passionate and gifted young director Motuba, who studied Drama, Political Science and Film and  Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, where she starred in and produced a number of projects. Following her graduation, she was accepted to the prestigious New York Film Academy and Baron/Brown Studio in Los Angeles, US, where she studied and graduated Magna Cum Laude at the aforementioned institution. After her three-year stint studying Acting and Writing for Film, she returned to Johannesburg where she began pursuing a career in the arts. Since then she has written and starred in numerous South African and international productions and continue to honour her heritage as a natural born storyteller.

Ziaphora Dakile, Lesoko Seabe and Dimpho More will star in this heart-warming drama that deals with emotions of loss and womanhood.

This is where the juicy heart of this play is at: The sisters debate culture, duty and motherhood as they sort through their deceased mother’s clothes. One sister must choose their mother’s final resting clothes whilst the other navigates her grief and guilt in a one act play that is a mediation through loss, life and the pursuit of closure.

The three actors have a huge responsibility in this production  of carrying this culturally multi-faceted play .

Dakile, who is new to the Market Theatre stages. She is an actor, poet, production assistant and dialect consultant. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NYC) where she was also a Company member. Recent theatre credits include: Yellow Card, Red Card directed by Tamilla Woodard ( in NYC), Me and the Girls (with Alan Cumming in NYC) directed by Douglas Carter Beane, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Jenine Collocott. Off Broadway credits also include: Homecoming Queen (production assistant at The Atlantic Theater), The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d ( production assistant at The Duke on 42nd street) and Mies Julie( dialect consultant at The Classic Stage Company).

Seabe has performed across South Africa, Spain , The Netherlands, Denmark and The United Kingdom. Her most recent stage credits include playing Siobhan in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime for which she was nominated for a Fleur du Cap best supporting actress award ; Lena in Clybourne Park, Mother of All things in Siembamba which won the Standard Bank silver ovation award and In Her Shoes which she co- wrote and was directed by Standard bank Young Artist Award winner for dance Luyanda Sidiya

More is an actress and director from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga residing in Johannesburg. Having received her qualification in Performance arts and Theatre Skills at The Market Theatre Laboratory, she has since  establishing herself in the entertainment industry. Her career highlights ‘Itsoseng’, ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’, ‘Children’s Monologues’ and ‘June 16 Monologues’.

Diaparo Tsa Mama is sponsored by the Department of Sports Arts and Culture’s Incubation programme.


Writer and Director                                   Rorisang Motuba

Sound Designer                              Vangile Z Mpumlwana

Lighting Designer                           Ali Madiga

Costume Designer                         Phumelele Dlamini

Set Designer                                                Philani Masedi

Stage Manager                               Happy Simelane

Lighting Designer Mentee                       Zandile Jongolo

Costume Designer Mentee                     Maria Mahlangu

Set Designer Mentee                                Khumo Pulumo

State Manager Mentee                Lutendo Cynthia Mudau


Dimpho More

Lesoko Seabe

Ziaphora Dakile

Age Recommendation                  PG13

Season:                                           18 March – 10 April 2022

Venue:                                               The John Kani Theatre                                            Performance times:                     Tuesday – Saturday 19h00 and Sunday 15h00

Ticket prices:                                   Tuesday – Thursday R90.00

                                                               Friday – Saturday R150.00

                                                               Sunday R130.00

To make block bookings and discounts please contact Anthony Ezeoke 011 832 1641ext 203/ 083 246 4950 or Bandile Luvalo 078 4344 860.

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