By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
By now we should all have heard horror stories that include violence, extreme prejudice and discrimination meted out by society to those that have the condition of Albinism in Africa.
We should also have heard how sometimes and tragically close family members out of desire for capital accumulation and superstition go to the extent extent of killing those in the family that have the Albinism condition in the mistaken belief that they will become rich by using their blood for muti purposes.
These are real horrible stories that should shame all of us in society and should propel us to act and protect people with Albinism.
A duo of father and son actors and directors Arthur Molepo and Mpho Molepo have in the past few years involved in a campaign to raise awareness about the fate of people with the Albinism condition in South Africa. They have been doing this since 2012, using the best gift and tool they have, which is theatre.
The father and son team have written, directed and produced a powerful play titled Mama I want the Black That you Are, which has toured in the country to critical acclaim from 2013.
This play is a powerful and believable portrayal of the difficulties that people with Albinism face in society on the African continent, South Africa included. I have watched this play twice, at Joburg Theatre and at State Theatre over the years, and each time I watch this show, I find myself fighting tears as this is an emotion inducing play that provokes a powerful reaction from the audience.
The father and son team have over the years since formed strong connections and bonds with communities representing people with Albinism, and one of these is a school in Soshanguve, a special school catering to those with various disabilities, with a well representation of those with the Albinism condition. For example the team haS donated sun glasses to the school during the height of Covid-19, in 2020,
Now the father and son team have gone further in their continuous involvement with the school, and this time they are taking a different kind of gift to the school.
On Sepetmber 22, 2021, the team will screen the recording of Mama I want the Black that You Are to the school, where those with the Albinism condition will see a painful part of their lives in society being reflected through this special screening of this theatrical show.
Mama I Want The Black That You Are, written and directed by Arthur Molepo
produced by Mpho Molepo was first performed at the Joburg Theatre at Space Dot Com in 2012 and later at the Pretoria State Theatre. The play has been active every year since 2012, except the 2020 lockdown.
It has attracted household names including Linda Sebezo who originated the role of Mama Anah, SiphiweNkosi played the role of Ike originally. Nandi Nyembe and Harriet Manamela also played the role of Mama at some point over the years in the production. PulengMolebatsi originated Matlakala, the central character in the show in 2012, and is still with the production to date. AnnelineMathiba and Regina Ndlovu, originated the alter egos, and later LesegoMotswatswa. Jacob Langa is the stage manager, and travels with the production.
“Between 2018 and 2019, the play performed in the theatres, Joburg Theatre, Soweto Theatre, Market Theatre, Northern Cape Theatre, Pacofs and The Playhouse in Durban. The play also performed in many schools around Gauteng, Limpopo, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West provinces, through the support of Minister NathiMthethwa of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Deputy Minister of Social Development HendriettaBogopane Zulu. When lockdown happened, we were planning to explore more provinces and school tours,” Filadelfia Secondary School, a school of choice by NkgoYaMetsi and Molepo Theatre Projects, caters for learners with disabilities and learners with albinism. We have been associated with the school since 2016 through the support of Standard Bank CSI, donating bucket hats, caps, magnifying glasses and recently masks for learners with albinism.Their eyes and skin are sensitive to the sun.
For this year’s activation of Albinism month, supported by the National Lotteries Commission, the production will visit the school and do a screening of Mama I Want The Black That You Are.Dr ThabisoTshabalala of Wits Medical School, will join the production in giving a talk on albinism from a medical point of view. Followed by the screening of the production, then the question and answer session with the cast and director BoitumeloMothabela, Alistair Dube, PulengMolebatsi and Arthur Molepo,” explained Mpho to CITYLIFE/ARTS.