On the first day of July, award-winning ensemble Umkhathi Theatre Works once again treated theatre lovers to a quality performance as they presented for a third time in Bulawayo a dance and musical play Footprints at Bulawayo Theatre.
The play is one of the “evergreen” theatre productions to have been cooked in the city of Kings.
The theatrical presentation of Footprints is a narrative that traces the story of AmaNdebele mainly through dance and storytelling.
The piece is more about a people who are carrying out an introspection as they seek to find out what defines them.
Those who braved the cold on that Friday night and graced Bulawayo Theatre, can attest that the rich dance culture within the Ndebele traditions was well explored in a socio-historical presentation by Umkhathi.
Music and dance have always played a paramount role in identifying culture of a certain tribe and the Ndebeles are not spared from that.
The traditional music of the Ndebele is characterised mainly by the widespread use of choral songs accompanied by leg rattles (Amahlwayi), clappers (Izikeyi) and the clapping of hands.
Footprints portrays all the aspects of the Ndebele music and dance antics.
Songs including Amabele, Mulibhayeni, Thendele, Sthandwa Sami, KoBulawayo, Salani, Thanks and praises, Masithole, Norish, Angilamali and Balomona, were sung and complemented by dances according to their different significance to the Ndebele people.
Of note, Footprints’ original script was twisted and a Jazz music scene was added from the original play as a way of showing how music and dance continued to modern day.
Through the particular Jazz scene, the characteristics of shebeens and their significance during the liberation struggle were explored, with one typicality being a public sphere, as revealed on the lyrics of the song “Uma Sithole uzosixoxela indaba (Ma Sithole will tell us stories).”
Matesu Dube who is the founder and director of Umkhathi revealed that the play hadn’t fully reached its potential of attracting a wider audience in different places and time.
Because of the time and the vision invested on coming up with Footprints, with script consultations from one of the seasoned playwrights Thabani Hilary (TH) Moyo, Dube said the show had to and it would be visited and presented from time to time.
“We staged the show again in Bulawayo because we felt we haven’t reached many people who would love to see such a production.
“When we create the show, we invest a lot of time and resources in it, so it doesn’t make sense for it to be a once-off performance but we have to keep performing the production.
We would love to take it to other cities like Victoria falls or Masvingo,” said Dube.